My Life and Loves  

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""Oh, Mr. Harris, you're terrible!" said the pretty and ecstatic Mrs. Redfern. She meant it. Truly it is only the bohemian who can be free, not the proletarian. Poor Mrs. Redfern, in spite of the delight which she took in all amorous affairs, was unable to scale off that irritating and essentially ignorant sense of Original Sin." --My Life and Loves (1922-27) by Frank Harris


"The next moment I was with her in bed and on her, but she moved aside and away from me. "No, let's talk," she said. "I began kissing her, but acquiesced, "Let's talk." To my amazement, she began: "Have you read Zola's latest book. Nana?" --My Life and Loves, cited in The Romantic Agony to indicate that the notion of cunnilingus was mentioned in Nana.


"Women and Love' , Edmond de Goncourt writes in his journal, "always constitute the subject of conversation wherever there is a meeting of intellectual people socially brought together by eating and drinking. Our talk at dinner was at first smutty (polisonne) and Tourgueneff listened to us with the open-mouthed wonder (l'etonnement un peu meduse) of a barbarian who only makes love (fait l'amour) very naturally (tres naturellement)". --My Life and Loves (1922-27) by Frank Harris

{{Template}} My Life and Loves is the autobiography of the Ireland-born, naturalized-American writer and editor Frank Harris (1856–1931). As published privately by Harris between 1922 and 1927, and by Jack Kahane's Obelisk Press in 1931, the work consisted of four volumes, illustrated with many drawings and photographs of nude women. The book gives a graphic account of Harris' sexual adventures and relates gossip about the sexual activities of celebrities of his day.

The work was banned in both the United States and Britain for a span of 40 years. At one time it was sold in Paris for more than $100. By today's standards, however, the sexual behavior it portrays is rather unexceptional, consisting primarily in the patronizing of prostitutes or quasi-prostitutes.

Contemporary and historic figures discussed frequently in the book include Robert Browning, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Thomas Carlyle, Joseph Chamberlain, Lord Randolph Churchill, Sir Charles Wentworth Dilke, Lord Folkestone, William Ewart Gladstone, Heinrich Heine, George Meredith, Charles Stewart Parnell, Cecil Rhodes, Lord Salisbury, Byron Caldwell Smith, Algernon Charles Swinburne, Oscar Wilde, and many others.

Contents

Cunnilingus episode in volume 2

"No, let's talk," she said. I began kissing her, but acquiesced, "Let's talk." To my amazement, she began: "Have you read Zola's latest book, Nana?" "Yes," I replied. "Well," she said, "you know what the girl did to Nana?" "Yes," I replied, with sinking heart. "Well," she went on, "why not do that to me? I'm desperately afraid of getting a child; you would be too in my place; why not love each other without fear?" A moment's thought told me that all roads lead to Rome and so I assented and soon I slipped down between her legs. "Tell me please how to give you most pleasure," I said, and gently I opened the lips of her sex and put my lips on it and my tongue against her clitoris. There was nothing repulsive in it; it was another and more sensitive mouth. Hardly had I kissed it twice when she slid lower down in the bed with a sigh, whispering, "That's it; that's heavenly!" Thus encouraged I naturally continued: soon her little lump swelled out so that I could take it in my lips and each time I sucked it, her body moved convulsively, and soon she opened her legs further and drew them up to let me in to the uttermost. Now I varied the movement by tonguing the rest of her sex and thrusting my tongue into her as far as possible; her movements quickened and her breathing grew more and more spasmodic, and when I went back to the clitoris again and took it in my lips and sucked it while pushing my forefinger back and forth into her sex, her movements became wilder and she began suddenly to cry in French, "Oh, c'est fou! Oh, c'est fou! Oh! Oh!" And suddenly she lifted me up, took my head in both her hands, and crushed my mouth with hers, as if she wanted to hurt me. The next moment my head was between her legs again and the game went on. Little by little I felt that my finger rubbing the top of her sex while I tongued her clitoris gave her the most pleasure, and after another ten minutes of this delightful practice she cried: "Frank, Frank, stop! Kiss me! Stop and kiss me, I can't stand any more, I am rigid with passion and want to bite or pinch you."

Additional volume

In the early 1950s, Harris' widow Nellie sold about a hundred pages of his writings on further autobiographical matters to Kahane's son Maurice Girodias for a million French francs. Girodias gave the task of producing something publishable from them to Alexander Trocchi, and described the result as having only 20% of its content derived from the nominal source material. It was published by Girodias's Olympia Press in 1954 as My Life and Loves: Fifth Volume.

Grove Press omnibus edition

John F. Gallagher edited, and provided annotations for, a new omnibus edition, My Life and Loves: Five Volumes in One/Complete and Unexpurgated, published by Grove Press in 1963. This edition contained no illustrations. Gallagher described the Trocchi version as "apparently not authentic". James Campbell, comparing the two editions' fifth volumes, does however argue that Girodias's 20% figure was too low.

Full text volume 1[1]

                          MY LIFE AND LOVES
                                  BY
                             FRANK HARRIS





                          MY LIFE AND LOVES
                                  BY
                             FRANK HARRIS

[Illustration:

 PRAXITELES’ APHRODITE

]

                          PRIVATELY PRINTED
                                 1922
             ADDRESS THE AUTHOR, I. RUE DU HELDER: PARIS





                               FOREWORD
                                  to
                  THE STORY OF “MY LIFE AND LOVES.”
                            --------------
                  “Go, soul, the body’s guest,
                     Upon a thankless errand:
                   Fear not to touch the best,
                     The Truth shall be thy warrant.”
                                  Sir Walter Raleigh.


Here in the blazing heat of an American August, amid the hurry and scurry of New York, I sit down to write my final declaration of Faith, as a preface or foreword to the Story of my Life. Ultimately it will be read in the spirit in which it has been written and I ask no better fortune. My journalism during the war and after the Armistice brought me prosecutions from the Federal Government. The authorities at Washington accused me of sedition and though the third Postmaster General, Ex-Governor Dockery, of Missouri who was chosen by the Department as the Judge, proclaimed my innocence and assured me I should not be prosecuted again, my magazine (Pearson’s) was time and again held up in the post, and its circulation reduced thereby to one-third. I was brought to ruin by the illegal persecution of President Wilson and his Arch-Assistant Burleson, and was laughed at when I asked for compensation. The American Government, it appears, is too poor to pay for its dishonorable blunders.

I record the shameful fact for the benefit of those Rebels and Lovers of the Ideal who will surely find themselves in a similar plight in future emergencies. For myself I do not complain. On the whole I have received better treatment in life than the average man and more lovingkindness than I perhaps deserved. I make no plaint.

If America had not reduced me to penury I should probably not have written this book as boldly as the ideal demanded. At the last push of Fate (I am much nearer seventy than sixty) we are all apt to sacrifice something of Truth for the sake of kindly recognition by our fellows and a peaceful ending. Being that “wicked animal”, as the French say, “who defends himself when he is attacked” I turn at length to bay, without any malice, I hope, but also without any fear such as might prompt compromise. I have always fought for the Holy Spirit of Truth and have been, as Heine said he was, a brave soldier in the Liberation War of Humanity: now one fight more, the best and the last.

There are two main traditions of English writing: the one of perfect liberty, that of Chaucer and Shakespeare, completely outspoken, with a certain liking for lascivious details and witty smut, a man’s speech: the other emasculated more and more by Puritanism and since the French Revolution, gelded to tamest propriety; for that upheaval brought the illiterate middle-class to power and insured the domination of girl-readers. Under Victoria, English prose literature became half childish, as in stories of “Little Mary”, or at best provincial, as anyone may see who cares to compare the influence of Dickens, Thackeray and Reade in the world with the influence of Balzac, Flaubert and Zola.

Foreign masterpieces such as “Les Contes Drolatiques” and “L’Assommoir” were destroyed in London as obscene by a magistrate’s order; even the Bible and Shakespeare were expurgated and all books dolled up to the prim decorum of the English Sunday-school. And America with unbecoming humility worsened the disgraceful, brainless example.

All my life, I have rebelled against this old maid’s canon of deportment, and my revolt has grown stronger with advancing years.

In the “Foreword” to “The Man Shakespeare” I tried to show how the Puritanism that had gone out of our morals had gone into the language, enfeebling English thought and impoverishing English speech.

At long last I am going back to the old English tradition. I am determined to tell the truth about my pilgrimage through this world, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, about myself and others, and I shall try to be at least as kindly to others as to myself.

Bernard Shaw assures me that no one is good enough or bad enough to tell the naked truth about himself; but I am beyond good and evil in this respect.

French literature is there to give the cue and inspiration: it is the freest of all in discussing matters of sex and chiefly by reason of its constant preoccupation with all that pertains to passion and desire, it has become the world literature to men of all races.

“Women and Love”, Edmond de Goncourt writes in his journal, “always constitute the subject of conversation wherever there is a meeting of intellectual people socially brought together by eating and drinking. Our talk at dinner was at first smutty (polissonne) and Tourgueneff listened to us with the open-mouthed wonder (l’étonnement un peu medusé) of a barbarian who only makes love (fait l’amour) very naturally (très naturellement).”

Whoever reads this passage carefully will understand the freedom I intend to use. But I shall not be tied down even to French conventions. Just as in painting, our knowledge of what the Chinese and Japanese have done, has altered our whole conception of the art, so the Hindoos and Burmese too have extended our understanding of the art of love. I remember going with Rodin through the British Museum and being surprised at the time he spent over the little idols and figures of the South Sea Islanders: “Some of them are trivial”, he said, “but look at that, and that, and that—sheer masterpieces that anyone might be proud of—lovely things!”

Art has become coextensive with humanity, and some of my experiences with so-called savages may be of interest even to the most cultured Europeans.

I intend to tell what life has taught me, and if I begin at the A. B. C. of love, it is because I was brought up in Britain and the United States; I shall not stop there.

Of course I know the publication of such a book will at once justify the worst that my enemies have said about me. For forty years now I have championed nearly all the unpopular causes, and have thus made many enemies; now they will all be able to gratify their malice while taking credit for prevision. In itself the book is sure to disgust the “unco guid” and the mediocrities of every kind who have always been unfriendly to me. I have no doubt too, that many sincere lovers of literature who would be willing to accept such license as ordinary French writers use, will condemn me for going beyond this limit. Yet there are many reasons why I should use perfect freedom in this last book.

First of all, I made hideous blunders early in life and saw worse blunders made by other youths, out of sheer ignorance: I want to warn the young and impressionable against the shoals and hidden reefs of life’s ocean and chart, so to speak, at the very beginning of the voyage when the danger is greatest, the ‘unpath’d waters’.

On the other hand I have missed indescribable pleasures because the power to enjoy and to give delight is keenest early in life, while the understanding both of how to give and how to receive pleasure comes much later, when the faculties are already on the decline.

I used to illustrate the absurdity of our present system of educating the young by a quaint simile. “When training me to shoot”, I said, “my earthly father gave me a little single-barreled gun, and when he saw that I had learned the mechanism and could be trusted, he gave me a double-barreled shot-gun. After some years I came into possession of a magazine gun which could shoot half a dozen times if necessary without reloading, my efficiency increasing with my knowledge.”

My Creator, or Heavenly Father, on the other hand, when I was wholly without experience and had only just entered my teens, gave me, so to speak, a magazine gun of sex, and hardly had I learned its use and enjoyment when he took it away from me forever, and gave me in its place a double-barreled gun: after a few years, he took that away and gave me a single-barreled gun with which I was forced to content myself for the best part of my life.

Towards the end the old single-barrel began to show signs of wear and age: sometimes it would go off too soon, sometimes it missed fire and shamed me, do what I would.

I want to teach youths how to use their magazine gun of sex so that it may last for years, and when they come to the double-barrel, how to take such care that the good weapon will do them liege service right into their fifties, and the single-barrel will then give them pleasure up to three score years and ten.

Moreover, not only do I desire in this way to increase the sum of happiness in the world while decreasing the pains and disabilities of men, but I wish also to set an example and encourage other writers to continue the work that I am sure is beneficent, as well as enjoyable.

W. L. George in “A Novelist on Novels” writes: “If a novelist were to develop his characters evenly the three hundred page novel might extend to five hundred, the additional two hundred pages would be made up entirely of the sex preoccupations of the characters. There would be as many scenes in the bedroom as in the drawing-room, probably more, as more time is passed in the sleeping apartment. The additional two hundred pages would offer pictures of the sex side of the characters and would compel them to become alive: at present they often fail to come to life because they only develop, say five sides out of six.... Our literary characters are lop-sided because their ordinary traits are fully portrayed while their sex-life is cloaked, minimized or left out.... Therefore the characters in modern novels are all false. They are megalocephalous and emasculate. English women speak a great deal about sex.... It is a cruel position for the English novel. The novelist may discuss anything but the main preoccupation of life.... we are compelled to pad out with murder, theft and arson which as everybody knows, are perfectly moral things to write about.”

                Pure is the snow—till mixed with mire—
                But never half so pure as fire.

There are graver reasons than any I have yet given why the truth should be told boldly. The time has come when those who are, as Shakespeare called them, “God’s Spies” having learned the mystery of things, should be called to counsel, for the ordinary political guides have led mankind to disaster: blind leaders of the blind!

Over Niagara we have plunged, as Carlyle predicted, and as every one with vision must have foreseen and now like driftwood we move round and round the whirlpool impotently without knowing whither or why.

One thing certain: we deserve the misery into which we have fallen. The laws of this world are inexorable and don’t cheat! Where, when, how have we gone astray? The malady is as wide as civilization which fortunately narrows the enquiry to time.

Ever since our conquest of natural forces began, towards the end of the eighteenth century, and material wealth increased by leaps and bounds, our conduct has deteriorated. Up to that time we had done the gospel of Christ mouth-honor at least; and had to some slight extent shown consideration if not love to our fellowmen: we did not give tithes to charity; but we did give petty doles till suddenly science appeared to reinforce our selfishness with a new message: progress comes through the blotting out of the unfit, we were told, and self-assertion was preached as a duty: the idea of the Superman came into life and the Will to Power and thereby Christ’s teaching of love and pity and gentleness was thrust into the background.

At once we men gave ourselves over to wrong doing and our iniquity took monstrous forms.

The creed we professed and the creed we practised were poles apart. Never I believe in the world’s history was there such confusion in man’s thought about conduct, never were there so many different ideals put forward for his guidance. It is imperatively necessary for us to bring clearness into this muddle and see why we have gone wrong and where.

For the world-war is only the last of a series of diabolical acts which have shocked the conscience of humanity. The greatest crimes in recorded time have been committed during the last half century almost without protest by the most civilised nations, nations that still call themselves Christian. Whoever has watched human affairs in the last half century must acknowledge that our progress has been steadily hell-ward.

The hideous massacres and mutilations of tens of thousands of women and children in the Congo Free State without protest on the part of Great Britain who could have stopped it all with one word, is surely due to the same spirit that directed the abominable blockade (continued by both England and America long after the Armistice) which condemned hundreds and thousands of women and children of our own kith and kin to death by starvation. The unspeakable meanness and confessed fraud of the Peace of Versailles with its tragic consequences from Vladivostock to London and finally the shameless, dastardly war waged by all the Allies and by America on Russia, for money, show us that we have been assisting at the overthrow of morality itself and returning to the ethics of the wolf and the polity of the Thieves’ Kitchen.

And our public acts as nations are paralleled by our treatment of our fellows within the community. For the small minority the pleasures of living have been increased in the most extraordinary way while the pains and sorrows of existence have been greatly mitigated, but the vast majority even of civilised peoples have hardly been admitted to any share in the benefits of our astounding material progress. The slums of our cities show the same spirit we have displayed in our treatment of the weaker races. It is no secret that over fifty per cent of English volunteers in the war were below the pigmy physical standard required and about one half of our American soldiers were morons with the intelligence of children under twelve years of age: “vae victis” has been our motto with the most appalling results. Clearly we have come to the end of a period and must take thought about the future.

The religion that directed or was supposed to direct our conduct for nineteen centuries has been finally discarded. Even the divine spirit of Jesus was thrown aside by Nietzsche as one throws the hatchet after the helve or to use the better German simile, the child was thrown out with the bath-water. The silly sex-morality of Paul has brought discredit upon the whole Gospel. Paul was impotent, boasted indeed that he had no sexual desires, wished that all men were even as he was in this respect, just as the fox in the fable who had lost his tail, wished that all other foxes should be mutilated in the same way in order to attain his perfection.

I often say that the Christian churches were offered two things: the spirit of Jesus and the idiotic morality of Paul, and they all rejected the highest inspiration and took to their hearts the incredibly base and stupid prohibition. Following Paul we have turned the Goddess of Love into a fiend and degraded the crowning impulse of our Being into a capital sin; yet everything high and ennobling in our nature springs directly out of the sexual instinct.

Grant Allan says rightly: “Its alliance is wholly with whatever is purest and most beautiful within us. To it we owe our love of bright colours, graceful form, melodious sound, rhythmic motion. To it we owe the evolution of music, of poetry, of romance, of belles lettres, of painting, of sculpture, of decorative art, of dramatic entertainment. To it we owe the entire existence of our aesthetic sense which in the last resort is a secondary sex-attribute. From it springs the love of beauty, around it all beautiful arts circle as their centre. Its subtle aroma pervades all literature. And to it we owe the paternal, maternal and marital relations, the growth of the affections, the love of little pattering feet and baby laughter.”

And this scientific statement is incomplete: not only is the sexual instinct the inspiring force of all art and literature; it is also our chief teacher of gentleness and tenderness, making lovingkindness an ideal and so warring against cruelty and harshness and that misjudging of our fellows which we men call justice. To my mind, cruelty is the one diabolic sin which must be wiped out of life and made impossible.

Paul’s condemnation of the body and its desires is in direct contradiction to the gentle teaching of Jesus and is in itself idiotic. I reject Paulism as passionately as I accept the gospel of Christ. In regard to the body I go back to the Pagan ideals, to Eros and Aphrodite and


                The fair humanities of old religions.

Paul and the Christian churches have dirtied desire, degraded women, debased procreation, vulgarized and vilified the best instinct in us.

            “Priests in black gowns are going their rounds,
             And binding with briars, my joys and desires.”

And the worst of it all is that the highest function of man has been degraded by foul words so that it is almost impossible to write the body’s hymn of joy as it should be written. The poets have been almost as guilty in this respect as the priests: Aristophanes and Rabelais are ribald, dirty: Boccaccio cynical while Ovid leers cold-bloodedly and Zola like Chaucer finds it difficult to suit language to his desires. Walt Whitman is better though often merely commonplace. The Bible is the best of all; but not frank enough even in the noble Song of Solomon which now and then by sheer imagination manages to convey the ineffable!

We are beginning to reject Puritanism and its unspeakable, brainless pruderies; but Catholicism is just as bad. Go to the Vatican Gallery and the great Church of St. Peter in Rome and you will find the fairest figures of ancient art clothed in painted tin, as if the most essential organs of the body were disgusting and had to be concealed.

I say the body is beautiful and must be lifted and dignified by our reverence: I love the body more than any Pagan of them all and I love the soul and her aspirations as well; for me the body and the soul are alike beautiful, all dedicate to Love and her worship.

I have no divided allegiance and what I preach today amid the scorn and hatred of men will be universally accepted tomorrow; for in my vision, too, a thousand years are as one day.

We must unite the soul of Paganism, the love of beauty and art and literature with the soul of Christianity and its human lovingkindness in a new synthesis which shall include all the sweet and gentle and noble impulses in us.

What we all need is more of the spirit of Jesus: we must learn at length with Shakespeare: “Pardon’s the word for all!”

I want to set this Pagan-Christian ideal before men as the highest and most human too.

Now one word to my own people and their peculiar shortcomings. Anglo-Saxon domineering combativeness is the greatest danger to Humanity in the world today. Americans are proud of having blotted out the red Indian and stolen his possessions and of burning and torturing negroes in the sacred name of equality. At all costs we must get rid of our hypocrisies and falsehoods and see ourselves as we are—a domineering race, vengeful and brutal, as exemplified in Haiti; we must study the inevitable effects of our soulless, brainless selfishness as shown in the world-war.

The Germanic ideal which is also the English and American ideal, of the conquering male that despises all weaker and less intelligent races and is eager to enslave or annihilate them, must be set aside. A hundred years ago, there were only fifteen millions of English and American folk; today there are nearly two hundred millions and it is plain that in another century or so, they will be the most numerous, as they are already by far the most powerful, race on earth.

The most numerous folk hitherto, the Chinese, has set a good example by remaining within its own boundaries, but these conquering, colonizing Anglo-Saxons threaten to overrun the earth and destroy all other varieties of the species man. Even now we annihilate the Red Indian because he is not subservient, while we are content to degrade the negro who doesn’t threaten our domination.

Is it wise to desire only one flower in this garden of a world? Is it wise to blot out the better varieties while preserving the inferior?

And the Anglo-Saxon ideal for the individual is even baser and more inept. Intent on satisfying his own conquering lust, he has compelled the female of the species to an unnatural chastity of thought and deed and word. He has thus made of his wife a meek, upper-servant or slave (die Hausfrau), who has hardly any intellectual interests and whose spiritual being only finds a narrow outlet in her mother-instincts. The daughter he has labored to degrade into the strangest sort of two-legged tame fowl ever imagined: she must seek a mate while concealing or denying all her strongest sex-feelings: in fine, she should be as cold-blooded as a frog and as wily and ruthless as an Apache on the war-path.

The ideal he has set before himself is confused and confusing: really he desires to be healthy and strong while gratifying all his sexual appetites. The highest type, however, the English gentleman, has pretty constantly in mind the individualistic ideal of what he calls an “all-round man”, a man whose body and mind is harmoniously developed and brought to a comparatively high state of efficiency.

He has no inkling of the supreme truth that every man and woman possesses some small facet of the soul which reflects life in a peculiar way or, to use the language of religion, sees God as no other soul born into the world, can ever see Him.

It is the first duty of every individual to develop all his faculties of body, mind and spirit as completely and harmoniously as possible; but it is a still higher duty for each of us to develop our special faculty to the uttermost consistent with health; for only by so doing shall we attain to the highest self-consciousness or be able to repay our debt to humanity. No Anglo-Saxon, so far as I know, has ever advocated this ideal or dreamed of regarding it as a duty. In fact, no teacher so far has even thought of helping men and women to find out the particular power which constitutes their essence and inbeing and justifies their existence. And so nine men and women out of ten go through life without realising their own special nature: they cannot lose their souls for they have never found them.

For every son of Adam, for every daughter of Eve, this is the supreme defeat, the final disaster. Yet no one, so far as I know, has ever warned of the danger or spoken of this ideal.

That’s why I love this book in spite of all its shortcomings and all its faults: it is the first book ever written to glorify the body and its passionate desires and the soul as well and its sacred, climbing sympathies.

Give and forgive, I always say, is the supreme lesson of life.

I only wish I had begun the book five years ago, before I had been half drowned in the brackish flood of old age and become conscious of failing memory; but notwithstanding this handicap, I have tried to write the book I have always wanted to read, the first chapter in the Bible of Humanity. And so I front this foreword with the lovely figure of Venus Queen, and I close it with the face of Christ as seen by Rubens when He forgave the adulterous woman.

Hearken to good counsel:

        “Live out your whole free life, while yet on earth,
         Seize the quick Present, prize your one sure boon:
         Though brief, each day a golden sun has birth;
         Though dim, the night is gemmed with stars and moon.”

[Illustration:

 Christ and The Woman taken in Adultery
 by Rubens.

]




                          MY LIFE AND LOVES.


Chapter I.

Memory is the Mother of the Muses, the prototype of the Artist. As a rule she selects and relieves out the important, omitting what is accidental or trivial. Now and then, however, she makes mistakes like all other artists. Nevertheless I take Memory in the main as my guide.

I was born on the 14th of February 1855, and named James Thomas, after my father’s two brothers: my father was in the Navy, a lieutenant in command of a revenue cutter or gunboat, and we children saw him only at long intervals.

My earliest recollection is being danced on the foot of my father’s brother James, the Captain of an Indiaman, who paid us a visit in the south of Kerry when I was about two. I distinctly remember repeating a hymn by heart for him, my mother on the other side of the fireplace, prompting: then I got him to dance me a little more, which was all I wanted. I remember my mother telling him I could read, and his surprise.

The next memory must have been about the same time: I was seated on the floor screaming when my father came in and asked: “What’s the matter?”

“It’s only Master Jim”, replied the nurse crossly, “he’s just screaming out of sheer temper, Sir, look, there’s not a tear in his eye.”

A year or so later, it must have been, I was proud of walking up and down a long room while my mother rested her hand on my head, and called me her walking stick.

Later still I remember coming to her room at night: I whispered to her and then kissed her, but her cheek was cold and she didn’t answer, and I woke the house with my shrieking: she was dead. I felt no grief, but something gloomy and terrible in the sudden cessation of the usual household activities.

A couple of days later I saw her coffin carried out, and when the nurse told my sister and me that we would never see our mother again, I was surprised merely and wondered why.

My mother died when I was nearly four, and soon after we moved to Kingstown near Dublin. I used to get up in the night with my sister Annie, four years my senior and go foraging for bread and jam or sugar. One morning about daybreak I stole into the nurse’s room, and saw a man beside her in bed, a man with a red moustache. I drew my sister in and she too saw him. We crept out again without waking them. My only emotion was surprise, but next day the nurse denied me sugar on my bread and butter and I said: “I’ll tell”—I don’t know why: I had then no inkling of modern journalism.

“Tell what?” she asked.

“There was a man in your bed”, I replied, “last night.”

“Hush, hush!” she said, and gave me the sugar.

After that I found all I had to do was to say “I’ll tell!” to get whatever I wanted. My sister even wished to know one day what I had to tell, but I would not say. I distinctly remember my feeling of superiority over her because she had not had sense enough to exploit the sugar mine.

When I was between four and five, I was sent with Annie to a girl’s boarding-school in Kingstown kept by a Mrs. Frost. I was put in the class with the oldest girls on account of my proficiency in arithmetic, and I did my best at it because I wanted to be with them, though I had no conscious reason for my preference. I remember how the nearest girl used to lift me up and put me in my high-chair and how I would hurry over the sums set in compound long division and proportion, for as soon as I had finished, I would drop my pencil on the floor, and then turn round and climb down out of my chair, ostensibly to get it, but really to look at the girls’ legs. Why? I couldn’t have said.

I was at the bottom of the class and the legs got bigger and bigger towards the end of the long table, and I preferred to look at the big ones.

As soon as the girl next to me missed me, she would move her chair back and call me, and I’d pretend to have just found my slate-pencil, which I said had rolled, and she’d lift me back into my high-chair.

One day I noticed a beautiful pair of legs on the other side of the table, near the top. There must have been a window behind the girl; for her legs up to the knees were in full light and they filled me with emotion giving me an indescribable pleasure. They were not the thickest legs, which surprised me. Up to that moment, I had thought it was the thickest legs I liked best; but now I saw that several girls, three anyway, had bigger legs, but none like hers, so shapely, with such slight ankles and tapering lines. I was enthralled and at the same time a little scared.

I crept back into my chair with one idea in my little head: could I get close to those lovely legs and perhaps touch them—breathless expectancy. I knew I could hit my slate-pencil and make it roll up between the files of legs. Next day I did this and crawled right up till I was close to the legs that made my heart beat in my throat and yet gave me a strange delight. I put out my hand to touch them; suddenly the thought came that the girl would simply be frightened by my touch and pull her legs back and I should be discovered and—I was frightened.

I returned to my chair to think, and soon found the solution. Next day I again crouched before the girl’s legs, choking with emotion. I put my pencil near her toes, and reached round between her legs with my left hand as if to get it, taking care to touch her calf. She shrieked, and drew back her legs, holding my hand tight between them, and cried: “What are you doing there!”

“Getting my pencil”, I said humbly, “it rolled.”

“There it is”, she said, kicking it with her foot.

“Thanks” I replied, overjoyed, for the feel of her soft legs was still on my hand.

“You’re a funny little fellow”, she said, but I didn’t care; I had had my first taste of Paradise and the forbidden fruit—authentic heaven!

I have no recollection of her face: it seemed pleasant; that’s all I remember. None of the girls made any impression on me but I can still recall the thrill of admiration and pleasure her shapely limbs gave me.

I record this incident at length, because it stands alone in my memory, and because it proves that sex-feeling may show itself in early childhood.

One day about 1890 I had Meredith, Walter Pater and Oscar Wilde dining with me in Park Lane and the time of sex-awakening was discussed. Both Pater and Wilde spoke of it as a sign of puberty; Pater thought it began about 13 or 14 and Wilde to my amazement set it as late as 16. Meredith alone was inclined to put it earlier.

“It shows sporadically”, he said, “and sometimes before puberty.”

I recalled the fact that Napoleon tells how he was in love before he was five years old with a school-mate called Giacominetta, but even Meredith laughed at this and would not believe that any real sex-feeling could show itself so early. To prove the point, I gave my experience as I have told it here, and brought Meredith to pause: “very interesting”, he thought, “but peculiar!”

“In her abnormalities”, says Goethe, “Nature reveals her secrets”; here is an abnormality, perhaps as such, worth noting.

I hadn’t another sensation of sex till nearly six years later when I was eleven, since which time such emotions have been almost incessant.

My exaltation to the oldest class in arithmetic got me into trouble by bringing me into relations with the headmistress, Mrs. Frost, who was very cross and seemed to think that I should spell as correctly as I did sums. When she found I couldn’t, she used to pull my ears and got into the habit of digging her long thumb-nail into my ear till it bled. I didn’t mind the smart; in fact, I was delighted, for her cruelty brought me the pity of the elder girls who used to wipe my ears with their pocket-handkerchiefs and say that old Frost was a beast and a cat.

One day my father sent for me and I went with a petty officer to his vessel in the harbor: my right ear had bled on to my collar. As soon as my father noticed it and saw the older scars, he got angry and took me back to the school and told Mrs. Frost what he thought of her, and her punishments.

Immediately afterwards, it seems to me I was sent to live with my eldest brother Vernon, ten years older than myself, who was in lodgings with friends in Galway while going to the College.

There I spent the next five years, which passed leaving a blank. I learned nothing in those years except how to play “tig”, “hide and seek”, “footer” and ball. I was merely a healthy, strong, little animal without an ache or pain or trace of thought.

Then I remember an interlude at Belfast where Vernon and I lodged with an old Methodist who used to force me to go to church with him and drew on a little black skullcap during the Service, which filled me with shame and made me hate him. There is a period in life when every thing peculiar or individual, excites dislike and is in itself an offense.

I learned here to “mitch” and lie simply to avoid school and to play, till my brother found I was coughing and having sent for a doctor, was informed that I had congestion of the lungs; the truth being that I played all day and never came home for dinner, seldom indeed before seven o’clock, when I knew Vernon would be back. I mention this incident because, while confined to the house, I discovered under the old Methodist’s bed, a set of doctor’s books with colored plates of the insides and the pudenda of men and women. I devoured all the volumes and bits of knowledge from them stuck to me for many a year. But curiously enough the main sex fact was not revealed to me then; but in talks a little later with boys of my own age.

I learned nothing in Belfast but rules of games and athletics. My brother Vernon used to go to a gymnasium every evening and exercise and box. To my astonishment he was not among the best; so while he was boxing I began practicing this and that, drawing myself up till my chin was above the bar, and repeating this till one evening Vernon found I could do it thirty times running: his praise made me proud.

About this time, when I was ten or so, we were all brought together in Carrickfergus; my brothers and sisters then first became living, individual beings to me. Vernon was going to a bank as a clerk, and was away all day. Willie, six years older than I was, Annie four years my senior, and Chrissie two years my junior, went to the same day-school, though the girls went to the girls’ entrance and had women teachers. Willie and I were in the same class; though he had grown to be taller than Vernon, I could beat him in most of the lessons. There was, however, one important branch of learning, in which he was easily the best in the school. The first time I heard him recite “The Battle of Ivry” by Macaulay, I was carried off my feet. He made gestures and his voice altered so naturally that I was lost in admiration.

That evening my sisters and I were together and we talked of Willie’s talent. My eldest sister was enthusiastic, which I suppose stirred envy and emulation in me, for I got up and imitated him, and to my sisters’ surprise I knew the whole poem by heart. “Who taught you?” Annie wanted to know, and when she heard that I had learned it just from hearing Willie recite it once, she was astonished and must have told our teacher, for the next afternoon he asked me to follow Willie and told me I was very good. From this time on, the reciting class was my chief education. I learned every boy’s piece and could imitate them all perfectly, except one redheaded rascal who could recite the “African Chief” better than anyone else, better even than the master. It was pure melodrama; but Red-head was a born actor and swept us all away by the realism of his impersonation. Never shall I forget how the boy rendered the words:

                “Look, feast thy greedy eyes on gold,
                   Long kept for sorest need;
                 Take it, thou askest sums untold
                   And say that I am freed.
                 Take it; my wife the long, long day
                   Weeps by the cocoa-tree,
                 And my young children leave their play
                   And ask in vain for me.”

I haven’t seen or heard the poem these fifty odd years. It seems tawdry stuff to me now; but the boy’s accents were of the very soul of tragedy and I realized clearly that I couldn’t recite that poem as well as he did. He was inimitable. Every time his accents and manner altered; now he did these verses wonderfully, at another time those, so that I couldn’t ape him; always there was a touch of novelty in his intense realization of the tragedy. Strange to say it was the only poem he recited at all well.

An examination came and I was first in the school in arithmetic and first too in elocution; Vernon even praised me, while Willie slapped me and got kicked on the shins for his pains. Vernon separated us and told Willie he should be ashamed of hitting one only half as big as he was. Willie lied promptly, saying I had kicked him first. I disliked Willie; I hardly know why, save that he was a rival in the school life.

After this Annie began to treat me differently and now I seemed to see her as she was and was struck by her funny ways. She wished both Chrissie and myself to call her “Nita”; it was short for “Anita”, she said, which was the stylish French way of pronouncing Annie. She hated “Annie”—it was “common and vulgar”; I couldn’t make out why.

One evening we were together and she had undressed Chrissie for bed, when she opened her own dress and showed us how her breasts had grown while Chrissie’s still remained small, and indeed “Nita’s” were ever so much larger and prettier and round like apples. Nita let us touch them gently and was evidently very proud of them. She sent Chrissie to bed in the next room while I went on learning a lesson beside her. Nita left the room to get something, I think, when Chrissie called me and I went into the bedroom wondering what she wanted. She wished me to know that her breasts would grow too, and be just as pretty as Nita’s. “Don’t you think so!” she asked, and taking my hand put it on them, and I said, “Yes”, for indeed I liked her better than Nita who was all airs and graces and full of affectations.

Suddenly Nita called me, and Chrissie kissed me, whispering “don’t tell her” and I promised. I always liked Chrissie and Vernon. Chrissie was very clever and pretty, with dark curls and big hazel eyes, and Vernon was a sort of hero and always very kind to me.

I learned nothing from this happening. I had hardly any sex-thrill with either sister, indeed, nothing like so much as I had had, five years before, through the girl’s legs in Mrs. Frost’s school, and I record the incident here chiefly for another reason. One afternoon about 1890, Aubrey Beardsley and his sister Mabel, a very pretty girl, had been lunching with me in Park Lane. Afterwards we went into the Park. I accompanied them as far as Hyde Park Corner. For some reason or other, I elaborated the theme that men of thirty or forty usually corrupted young girls, and women of thirty or forty in turn corrupted youths.

“I don’t agree with you”, Aubrey remarked: “It’s usually a fellow’s sister who gives him his first lessons in sex. I know it was Mabel here, who first taught me.”

I was amazed at his outspokenness; Mabel flushed crimson and I hastened to add:

“In childhood girls are far more precocious; but those little lessons are usually too early to matter.” He wouldn’t have it, but I changed the subject resolutely and Mabel told me some time afterwards that she was very grateful to me for cutting short the discussion: “Aubrey”, she said, “loves all sex things and doesn’t care what he says or does.”

I had seen before that Mabel was pretty: I realised that day when she stooped over a flower that her figure was beautifully slight and round. Aubrey caught my eye at the moment and remarked maliciously:

“Mabel was my first model, weren’t you, Mabs? I was in love with her figure”, he went on judicially, “her breasts were so high and firm and round that I took her as my ideal.” She laughed, blushing a little, and rejoined, “Your figures, Aubrey, are not “exactly ideal”.”

I realised from this little discussion that most men’s sisters were just as precocious as mine and just as likely to act as teachers in the matter of sex.

From about this time on, the individualities of people began to impress me definitely. Vernon suddenly got an appointment in a bank at Armagh and I went to live with him there, in lodgings. The lodging-house keeper I disliked: she was always trying to make me keep hours and rules, and I was as wild as a homeless dog, but Armagh was a wonder city to me. Vernon made me a day-boy at the Royal School: it was my first big school; I learned all the lessons very easily and most of the boys and all the masters were kind to me. The great Mall or park-like place in the centre of the town delighted me; I had soon climbed nearly every tree in it, tree-climbing and reciting being the two sports in which I excelled.

When we were at Carrickfergus, my father had had me on board his vessel and had matched me at climbing the rigging against a cabin-boy and though the sailor was first at the cross-trees, I caught him on the descent by jumping at a rope and letting it slide through my hands, almost at falling speed to the deck. I heard my father tell this afterwards with pleasure to Vernon, which pleased my vanity inordinately and increased, if that were possible, my delight in showing off.

For another reason my vanity had grown beyond measure. At Carrickfergus I had got hold of a book on athletics belonging to Vernon and had there learned that if you went into the water up to your neck and threw yourself boldly forward and tried to swim, you would swim; for the body is lighter than the water and floats.

The next time I went down to bathe with Vernon, instead of going on the beach in the shallow water and wading out, I went with him to the end of the pier and when he dived in, I went down the steps and as soon as he came up to the surface I cried, “Look! I can swim too”, and I boldly threw myself forward and, after a moment’s dreadful sinking and spluttering, did in fact swim. When I wanted to get back I had a moment of appalling fear: “Could I turn round!” The next moment I found it quite easy to turn and I was soon safely back on the steps again.

“When did you learn to swim?”, asked Vernon coming out beside me. “This minute”, I replied and as he was surprised, I told him I had read it all in his book and made up my mind to venture the very next time I bathed. A little time afterwards I heard him tell this to some of his men friends in Armagh, and they all agreed that it showed extraordinary courage, for I was small for my age and always appeared even younger than I was.

Looking back, I see that many causes combined to strengthen the vanity in me which had already become inordinate and in the future was destined, to shape my life and direct its purposes. Here in Armagh everything conspired to foster my besetting sin. I was put among boys of my age, I think in the lower Fourth, and the form-master finding that I knew no Latin, showed me a Latin grammar and told me I’d have to learn it as quickly as possible, for the class had already begun to read Caesar: he showed me the first declension _mensa_, as the example, and asked me if I could learn it by the next day. I said I would, and as luck would have it, the Mathematical master passing at the moment, the form-master told him I was backward and should be in a lower form.

“He’s very good indeed at figures”, the Mathematical master rejoined, “he might be in the Upper Division.”

“Really!” exclaimed the Form-master. “See what you can do,” he said to me, “you may find it possible to catch up. Here’s a Caesar too, you may as well take it with you. We have done only two or three pages.”

That evening I sat down to the Latin grammar, and in an hour or so had learned all the declensions and nearly all the adjectives and pronouns. Next day I was trembling with hope of praise and if the form-master had encouraged me or said one word of commendation, I might have distinguished myself in the class work, and so changed perhaps my whole life; but the next day he had evidently forgotten all about my backwardness. By dint of hearing the other boys answer I got a smattering of the lessons, enough to get through them without punishment, and soon a good memory brought me among the foremost boys, though I took no interest in learning Latin.

Another incident fed my self-esteem and opened to me the world of books. Vernon often went to a clergyman’s who had a pretty daughter, and I too was asked to their evening parties. The daughter found out I could recite, and soon it became the custom to get me to recite some poem everywhere we went. Vernon bought me the poems of Macaulay and Walter Scott and I had soon learned them all by heart, and used to declaim them with infinite gusto: at first my gestures were imitations of Willie’s; but Vernon taught me to be more natural and I bettered his teaching. No doubt my small stature helped the effect and the Irish love of rhetoric did the rest; but every one praised me and the showing off made me very vain and—a more important result—the learning of new poems brought me to the reading of novels and books of adventure. I was soon lost in this new world: though I played at school with the other boys, in the evening I never opened a lesson-book; but devoured Lever and Mayne Reid, Marryat and Fenimore Cooper with unspeakable delight.

I had one or two fights at school with boys of my own age: I hated fighting; but I was conceited and combative and strong and so got to fisticuffs twice or three times. Each time, as soon as an elder boy saw the scrimmage, he would advise us, after looking on for a round or two, to stop and make friends. The Irish are supposed to love fighting better than eating; but my school-days assure me that they are not nearly so combative or perhaps I should say, so brutal, as the English.

In one of my fights a boy took my part and we became friends. His name was Howard and we used to go on long walks together. One day I wanted him to meet Strangways, the Vicar’s son, who was fourteen but silly, I thought; Howard shook his head: “he wouldn’t want to know me”, he said, “I am a Roman Catholic.” I still remember the feeling of horror his confession called up in me: “A Roman Catholic! Could anyone as nice as Howard be a Catholic?”

I was thunderstruck and this amazement has always illumined for me the abyss of Protestant bigotry, but I wouldn’t break with Howard who was two years older than I and who taught me many things. He taught me to like Fenians, though I hardly knew what the word meant. One day I remember he showed me posted on the Court House a notice offering 5000 Pounds sterling as reward to anyone who would tell the whereabouts of James Stephen, the Fenian Head-Centre. “He’s travelling all over Ireland”, Howard whispered, “everybody knows him”, adding with gusto, “but no one would give the Head-Centre away to the dirty English.” I remember thrilling to the mystery and chivalry of the story. From that moment Head-Centre was a sacred symbol to me as to Howard.

One day we met Strangways and somehow or other began talking of sex. Howard knew all about it and took pleasure in enlightening us both. It was Cecil Howard who first initiated Strangways and me too in self-abuse. In spite of my Novel reading, I was still at eleven too young to get much pleasure from the practice; but I was delighted to know how children were made and a lot of new facts about sex. Strangways had hair about his private parts, as indeed Howard had, also, and when he rubbed himself and the orgasm came, a sticky milky fluid spirted from Strangway’s cock which Howard told us was the man’s seed, which must go right into the woman’s womb to make a child.

A week later, Strangways astonished us both by telling how he had made up to the nursemaid of his younger sisters and got into her bed at night. The first time she wouldn’t let him do anything, it appeared, but after a night or two he managed to touch her sex and assured us it was all covered with silky hairs. A little later he told us how she had locked her door and how the next day he had taken off the lock and got into bed with her again. At first she was cross, or pretended to be, he said, but he kept on kissing her and begging her, and bit by bit she yielded, and he touched her sex again: “it was a slit”, he said. A few nights later, he told us he had put his prick into her and “Oh! by gum, it was wonderful, wonderful!”

“But how did you do it!” we wanted to know and he gave us his whole experience. “Girls love kissing,” he said, “and so I kissed and kissed her and put my leg on her, and her hand on my cock and I kept touching her breasts and her cunny (that’s what she calls it) and at last I got on her between her legs and she guided my prick into her cunt (God it was wonderful!) and now I go with her every night and often in the day as well. She likes her cunt touched, but very gently”, he added, “she showed me how to do it with one finger like this” and he suited the action to the word.

Strangways in a moment became to us not only a hero but a miracle-man; we pretended not to believe him in order to make him tell us more, but in our hearts we knew he was telling us the truth, and we were almost crazy with breathless desire.

I got him to invite me up to the Vicarage and I saw Mary the nurse-girl there, and she seemed to me almost a woman and spoke to him as “Master Will” and he kissed her, though she frowned and said “Leave off” and “Behave yourself”, very angrily; but I felt that her anger was put on to prevent my guessing the truth.

I was aflame with desire and when I told Howard, he, too, burned with lust, and took me out for a walk and questioned me all over again and, under a haystack in the country we gave ourselves to a bout of frigging which for the first time thrilled me with pleasure.

All the time we were playing with ourselves I kept thinking of Mary’s hot slit, as Strangways had described it, and at length a real orgasm came and shook me; the imagining had intensified my delight.

Nothing in my life up to that moment was comparable in joy to that story of sexual pleasure as described, and acted for us, by Strangways.


                              MY FATHER.

Father was coming: I was sick with fear: he was so strict and loved to punish. On the ship he had beaten me with a strap because I had gone forward and listened to the sailors talking smut: I feared him and disliked him ever since I saw him once come aboard drunk.

It was the evening of a regatta at Kingston. He had been asked to lunch on one of the big yachts. I heard the officers talking of it. They said he was asked because he knew more about tides and currents along the coast than anyone, more even than the fishermen. The racing skippers wanted to get some information out of him. Another added, “he knows the slants of the wind off Howth Head, ay, and the weather, too, better than anyone living!” All agreed he was a first-rate sailor “one of the best, the very best if he had a decent temper—the little devil.”

“D’ye mind when he steered the gig in that race for all? Won? av course he won, he has always won—ah! he’s a great little sailor an’ he takes care of the men’s food too, but he has the divil’s own temper—an’ that’s the truth.”

That afternoon of the Regatta, he came up the ladder quickly and stumbled smiling as he stepped down to the deck. I had never seen him like that; he was grinning and walking unsteadily: I gazed at him in amazement. An officer turned aside and as he passed me he said to another: “Drunk as a lord.” Another helped my father down to his cabin and came up five minutes afterwards: “he’s snoring: he’ll soon be all right: it’s that champagne they give him, and all that praising him and pressing him to give them tips for this and that.”

“No, no!” cried another, “it’s not the drink; he only gets drunk when he hasn’t to pay for it”, and all of them grinned; it was true, I felt, and I despised the meanness inexpressibly.

I hated them for seeing him, and hated him—drunk and talking thick and staggering about; an object of derision and pity!—my “Governor”, as Vernon called him; I despised him.

And I recalled other griefs I had against him. A Lord of the Admiralty had come aboard once: father was dressed in his best; I was very young: it was just after I had learned to swim in Carrickfergus. My father used to make me undress and go in and swim round the vessel every morning after my lessons.

That morning I had come up as usual at eleven and a strange gentleman and my father were talking together near the companion. As I appeared my father gave me a frown to go below but the stranger caught sight of me and laughing called me. I came to them and the stranger was surprised on hearing I could swim. “Jump in, Jim!” cried my father, “and swim round.”

Nothing loath I ran down the ladder, pulled off my clothes and jumped in. The stranger and my father were above me smiling and talking; my father waved his hand and I swam round the vessel. When I got back, I was about to get on the steps and come aboard when my father said:

“No, no, swim on round till I tell you to stop.”

Away I went again quite proud; but when I got round the second time I was tired; I had never swum so far and I had sunk deep in the water and a little spray of wave had gone into my mouth; I was very glad to get near the steps, but as I stretched out my hand to mount them, my father waved his hand.—

“Go on, go on!” he cried, “till you’re told to stop.”

I went on: but now I was very tired and frightened as well, and as I got to the bow the sailors leant over the bulwarks and one encouraged me: “Go slow, Jim, you’ll get round all right.” I saw it was big Newton, the stroke-oar of my father’s gig, but just because of his sympathy I hated my father the more for making me so tired and so afraid.

When I got round the third time, I swam very slowly and let myself sink very low, and the stranger spoke for me to my father, and then he himself told me to “come up.”

I came eagerly, but a little scared at what my father might do; but the stranger came over to me, saying, “he’s all blue; that water’s very cold, Captain; someone should give him a good towelling.”

My father said nothing but “Go down and dress”, adding, “get warm.”

The memory of my fear made me see that he was always asking me to do too much, and I hated him who could get drunk and shame me and make me run races up the rigging with the cabin boys who were grown men and could beat me. I disliked him.

I was too young then to know that it was probably the habit of command which prevented him from praising me, though I knew in a half-conscious way that he was proud of me, because I was the only one of his children who never got sea-sick.

A little later he arrived in Armagh, and the following week was wretched: I had to come straight home from school every day, and go out for a long walk with the “governor” and he was not a pleasant companion. I couldn’t let myself go with him as with a chum; I might in the heat of talk use some word or tell him something and get into an awful row. So I walked beside him silently, taking heed as to what I should say in answer to his simplest question. There was no companionship!

In the evening he used to send me to bed early: even before nine o’clock, though Vernon always let me stay up with him reading till eleven or twelve o’clock. One night I went up to my bedroom on the next floor, but returned almost at once to get a book and have a read in bed, which was a rare treat to me. I was afraid to go into the sitting-room; but crept into the dining-room where there were a few books, though not so interesting as those in the parlour; the door between the two rooms was ajar. Suddenly I heard my father say:

“He’s a little Fenian.”

“Fenian”, repeated Vernon in amazement, “really, Governor, I don’t believe he knows the meaning of the word; he’s only just eleven, you must remember.”

“I tell you” broke in my father, “he talked of James Stephen, the Fenian Head-Centre, today with wild admiration. He’s a Fenian alright, but how did he catch it?”

“I’m sure I don’t know”, replied Vernon, “he reads a great deal and is very quick: I’ll find out about it.”

“No, no!” said my father, “the thing is to cure him: he must go to some school in England, that’ll cure him.”

I waited to hear no more but got my book and crept upstairs; so because I loved the Fenian Head-Centre I must be a Fenian.

“How stupid Father is”, was my summing up, but England tempted me, England—life was opening out.

It was at the Royal School in the summer after my sex-experiences with Strangways and Howard that I first began to notice dress. A boy in the sixth form named Milman had taken a liking to me and though he was five years older than I was, he often went with Howard and myself for walks. He was a stickler for dress, said that no one but “cads” (a name I learned from him for the first time) and common folk would wear a made-up tie: he gave me one of his scarves and showed me how to make a running lover’s knot in it. On another occasion he told me that only “cads” would wear trowsers frayed or repaired.

Was it Milman’s talk that made me self-conscious or my sex-awakening through Howard and Strangways? T couldn’t say; but at this time I had a curious and prolonged experience. My brother Vernon hearing me once complain of my dress, got me three suits of clothes, one in black with an Eton jacket for best and a tall hat and the others in tweeds: he gave me shirts, too, and ties, and I began to take great care of my appearance. At our evening parties the girls and young women (Vernon’s friends) were kinder to me than ever and I found myself wondering whether I really looked “nice” as they said.

I began to wash and bathe carefully and brush my hair to regulation smoothness (only “cads” used pomatum, Milman said) and when I was asked to recite, I would pout and plead prettily that I did not want to, just in order to be pressed.

Sex was awakening in me at this time but was still indeterminate, I imagine; for two motives ruled me for over six months: I was always wondering how I looked and watching to see if people liked me. I used to try to speak with the accent used by the “best people” and on coming into a room I prepared my entrance. Someone, I think it was Vernon’s sweetheart, Monica, said that I had an energetic profile, so I always sought to show my profile. In fact, for some six months, I was more a girl than a boy, with all a girl’s self-consciousness and manifold affectations and sentimentalities: I often used to think that no one cared for me really and I would weep over my unloved loneliness.

Whenever later, as a writer, I wished to picture a young girl, I had only to go back to this period in my consciousness in order to attain the peculiar view-point of the girl.




Chapter II. LIFE IN AN ENGLISH GRAMMAR SCHOOL.

If I tried my best, it would take a year to describe the life in that English Grammar School at R.... I had always been perfectly happy in every Irish school and especially in the Royal School at Armagh. Let me give one difference as briefly as possible. When I whispered in the class-room in Ireland, the master would frown at me and shake his head; ten minutes later I was talking again, and he’d hold up an admonitory finger: the third time he’d probably say, “Stop talking, Harris, don’t you see you’re disturbing your neighbour?” Half an hour later in despair he’d cry, “If you still talk, I’ll have to punish you.”

Ten minutes afterwards: “You’re incorrigible, Harris, come up here” and I’d have to go and stand beside his desk for the rest of the morning, and even this light punishment did not happen more than twice a week, and as I came to be head of my class, it grew rarer.

In England, the procedure was quite different. “That new boy there is talking; take 300 lines to write out and keep quiet.”

“Please, Sir”, I’d pipe up—“Take 500 lines and keep quiet.”

“But, Sir”—in remonstrance.

“Take 1000 lines and if you answer again, I’ll send you to the Doctor”—which meant I’d get a caning or a long talking to.

The English masters one and all ruled by punishment; consequently I was indoors writing out lines almost every day, and every half-holiday for the first year. Then my father, prompted by Vernon, complained to the Doctor that writing out lines was ruining my handwriting.

After that I was punished by lines to learn by heart; the lines quickly grew into pages, and before the end of the first half year it was found that I knew the whole school history of England by heart, through these punishments. Another remonstrance from my father, and I was given lines of Vergil to learn. Thank God! that seemed worth learning and the story of Ulysses and Dido on “the wild sea-banks” became a series of living pictures to me, not to be dimmed even, so long as I live.

That English school for a year and a half was to me a brutal prison with stupid daily punishments. At the end of that time I was given a seat by myself, thanks to the Mathematical master; but that’s another story.

The two or three best boys of my age in England were far more advanced than I was in Latin and had already waded through half the Greek Grammar, which I had not begun, but I was better in Mathematics than any one in the whole lower school. Because I was behind the English standard in languages, the Form-master took me to be stupid and called me “stupid”, and as a result I never learned a Latin or Greek lesson in my two and a half years in the Grammar School. Nevertheless, thanks to the punishment of having to learn Vergil and Livy by heart, I was easily the best of my age in Latin too, before the second year was over.

I had an extraordinary verbal memory. The Doctor, I remember, once mouthed out some lines of the “Paradise Lost” and told us in his pompous way that _Lord_ Macaulay knew the “Paradise Lost” by heart from beginning to end. I asked: “Is that hard, Sir!” “When you’ve learned half of it”, he replied, “you’ll understand how hard! _Lord_ Macaulay was a genius”, and he emphasized the “_Lord_” again.

A week later when the Doctor again took the school in literature, I said at the end of the hour: “Please, Sir, I know the ‘Paradise Lost’ by heart”; he tested me and I remember how he looked at me afterwards from head to foot as if asking himself where I had put all the learning. This “piece of impudence”, as the older boys called it, brought me several cuffs and kicks from boys in the Sixth, and much ill-will from many of the others.

All English school life was summed up for me in the “fagging.” There was “fagging” in the Royal School in Armagh, but it was kindly. If you wanted to get out of it for a long walk with a chum, you had only to ask one of the Sixth and you got permission to skip it.

But in England the rule was Rhadamanthine; the fags’ names on duty were put up on a blackboard, and if you were not on time, ay, and servile to boot, you’d get a dozen from an ash plant on your behind and not laid on perfunctorily and with distaste, as the Doctor did it, but with vim so that I had painful weals on my backside and couldn’t sit down for days without a smart.

The fags too, being young and weak, were very often brutally treated just for fun. On Sunday mornings in summer, for instance, we had an hour longer in bed. I was one of the half dozen juniors in the big bedroom; there were two older boys in it, one at each end, presumably to keep order; but in reality to teach lechery and corrupt their younger favorites. If the mothers of England knew what goes on in the dormitories of these boarding-schools throughout England, they would all be closed, from Eton and Harrow upwards or downwards, in a day. If English fathers even had brains enough to understand that the fires of sex need no stoking in boyhood, they too would protect their sons from the foul abuse. But I shall come back to this. Now I wish to speak of the cruelty.

Every form of cruelty was practiced on the younger, weaker and more nervous boys. I remember one Sunday morning, the half dozen older boys pulled one bed along the wall and forced all the seven younger boys underneath it, beating with sticks any hand or foot that showed. One little fellow cried that he couldn’t breathe and at once the gang of tormentors began stuffing up all the apertures, saying that they would make a “Black Hole” of it. There were soon cries and strugglings under the bed and at length one of the youngest began shrieking so that the torturers ran away from the prison, fearing lest some master should hear.

One wet Sunday afternoon in midwinter, a little nervous “Mother’s darling” from the West Indies who always had a cold and was always sneaking near the fire in the big schoolroom, was caught by two of the Fifth and held near the flames. Two more brutes pulled his trowsers tight over his bottom, and the more he squirmed and begged to be let go, the tighter they held the trowsers and the nearer the flames he was pushed, till suddenly the trowsers split apart scorched through, and as the little fellow tumbled forward screaming, the torturers realized that they had gone too far. The little “Nigger” as he was called, didn’t tell how he came to be so scorched but took his fortnight in sick bay as a respite.

We read of a fag at Shrewsbury who was thrown into a bath of boiling water by some older boys because he liked to take his bath very warm; but this experiment turned out badly, for the little fellow died and the affair could not be hushed up, though it was finally dismissed as a regrettable accident.

The English are proud of the fact that they hand over a good deal of the school discipline to the older boys: they attribute this innovation to Arnold of Rugby and, of course, it is possible if the supervision is kept up by a genius, that it may work for good and not for evil; but usually it turns the school into a forcing-house of cruelty and immorality. The older boys establish the legend that only sneaks would tell anything to the masters, and then they are free to give rein to their basest instincts.

The two Monitors in our big bedroom in my time were a strapping big fellow named Dick F…, who tired all the little boys by going into their beds and making them frig him till his semen came. The little fellows all hated to be covered with his filthy slime, but they had to pretend to like doing as he told them, and usually he insisted on frigging them by way of exciting himself. Dick picked me out once or twice but I managed to catch his semen on his own nightshirt, and so after calling me a “dirty little devil” he left me alone.

The other monitor was Jones, a Liverpool boy of about seventeen, very backward in lessons but very strong, the “Cock” of the school at fighting. He used always to go to one young boy’s bed whom he favored in many ways. Henry H… used to be able to get off any fagging and he never let out what Jones made him do at night, but in the long run he got to be chums with another little fellow and it all came out. One night when Jones was in Henry’s bed, there was a shriek of pain and Jones was heard to be kissing and caressing his victim for nearly an hour afterwards. We all wondered whether Jones had had him, or what had happened. Henry’s chum one day let the cat out of the bag. It appeared that Jones used to make the little fellow take his sex in his mouth and frig him and suck him at the same time. But one evening he had brought up some butter and smeared it over his prick and gradually inserted it into Henry’s anus and this came to be his ordinary practice. But this night he had forgotten the butter and when he found a certain resistance, he thrust violently forward, causing extreme pain and making his pathic bleed. Henry screamed and so after an interval of some weeks or months the whole procedure came to be known.

If there had been no big boys as Monitors, there would still have been a certain amount of solitary frigging; from twelve or thirteen on, most boys and most girls too, practice self-abuse from time to time on some slight provocation, but the practice doesn’t often become habitual unless it is fostered by one’s elders and practiced mutually. In Ireland it was sporadic; in England perpetual and in English schools it often led to downright sodomy as in this instance.

In my own case there were two restraining influences, and I wish to dwell on both as a hint to parents. I was a very eager little athlete: thanks to instructions and photographs in a book on athletics belonging to Vernon, I found out how to jump and how to run. To jump high one had to take but a short run from the side and straighten oneself horizontally as one cleared the bar. By constant practice I could at thirteen walk under the bar and then jump it. I soon noticed that if I frigged myself the night before, I could not jump so well, the consequence being that I restrained myself, and never frigged save on Sunday and soon managed to omit the practice on three Sundays out of four.

Since I came to understanding, I have always been grateful to that exercise for this lesson in self-restraint. Besides, one of the boys was always frigging himself: even in school he kept his right hand in his trousers’ pocket and continued the practice. All of us knew that he had torn a hole in his pocket so that he could play with his cock; but none of the masters ever noticed anything. The little fellow grew gradually paler and paler until he took to crying in a corner, and unaccountable nervous tremblings shook him for a quarter of an hour at a time. At length, he was taken away by his parents: what became of him afterwards, I don’t know, but I do know that till he was taught self-abuse, he was one of the quickest boys of his age at lessons and given like myself to much reading.

This object-lesson in consequences had little effect on me at the time; but later it was useful as a warning. Such teaching may have affected the Spartans as we read in history that they taught their children temperance by showing them a drunken helot; but I want to lay stress on the fact I was first taught self-control by a keen desire to excel in jumping and in running, and as soon as I found that I couldn’t run as fast or jump as high after practicing self-abuse, I began to restrain myself and in return this had a most potent effect on my will-power.

I was over thirteen when a second and still stronger restraining influence made itself felt, and strangely enough this influence grew through my very desire for girls and curiosity about them.

The story marks an epoch in my life. We were taught singing at school and when it was found that I had a good alto voice and a very good ear, I was picked to sing solos, both in school and in the church choir. Before every church festival there was a good deal of practice with the organist, and girls from neighbouring houses joined in our classes. One girl alone sang alto and she and I were separated from the other boys and girls; the upright piano was put across the corner of the room and we two sat or stood behind it almost out of sight of all the other singers; the organist, of course, being seated in front of the piano. The girl E… who sang alto with me was about my own age: she was very pretty or seemed so to me, with golden hair and blue eyes and I always made up to her as well as I could, in my boyish way. One day while the organist was explaining something, E... stood up on the chair and leant over the back of the piano to hear better or see more. Seated in my chair behind her, I caught sight of her legs; for her dress rucked up behind as she leaned over: at once my breath stuck in my throat. Her legs were lovely, I thought, and the temptation came to touch them; for no one could see.

I got up immediately and stood by the chair she was standing on. Casually I let my hand fall against her left leg. She didn’t draw her leg away or seem to feel my hand, so I touched her more boldly. She never moved, though now I knew she must have felt my hand, I began to slide my hand up her leg and suddenly my fingers felt the warm flesh on her thigh where the stocking ended above the knee. The feel of her warm flesh made me literally choke with emotion: my hand went on up, warmer and warmer, when suddenly I touched her sex: there was soft down on it. The heart-pulse throbbed in my throat. I have no words to describe the intensity of my sensations.

Thank God, E…. did not move or show any sign of distaste. Curiosity was stronger even than desire in me; I felt her sex all over and at once the idea came into my head that it was like a fig (the Italians, I learned later, call it familiarly “fica”); it opened at my touches and I inserted my finger gently, as Strangways had told me that Mary had taught him to do; still E… did not move. Gently I rubbed the front part of her sex with my finger. I could have kissed her a thousand times out of passionate gratitude.

Suddenly as I went on, I felt her move and then again; plainly she was showing me where my touch gave her most pleasure: I could have died for her in thanks; again she moved and I could feel a little mound or small button of flesh right in the front of her sex, above the junction of the inner lips: of course it was her clitoris. I had forgotten all the old Methodist doctor’s books till that moment; this fragment of long forgotten knowledge came back to me: gently I rubbed the clitoris and at once she pressed down on my finger for a moment or two. I tried to insert my finger into the vagina; but she drew away at once and quickly, closing her sex as if it hurt, so I went back to caressing her tickler.

[Illustration]

Sudden the miracle ceased. The cursed organist had finished his explanation of the new plain chant, and as he touched the first notes on the piano, E… drew her legs together; I took away my hand and she stepped down from the chair: “You darling, darling”, I whispered; but she frowned, and then just gave me a smile out of the corner of her eye to show me she was not displeased.

Ah, how lovely, how seductive she seemed to me now, a thousand times lovelier and more desirable than ever before. As we stood up to sing again, I whispered to her: “I love you, love you, dear, dear!”

I can never express the passion of gratitude I felt to her for her goodness, her sweetness in letting me touch her sex. E… it was who opened the Gates of Paradise to me and let me first taste the hidden mysteries of sexual delight. Still, after more than fifty years I feel the thrill of the joy she gave me by her response, and the passionate reverence of my gratitude is still alive in me.

This experience with E… had the most important and unlooked for results. The mere fact that girls could feel sex pleasure “just as boys do” increased my liking for them and lifted the whole sexual intercourse to a higher plane in my thought. The excitement and pleasure were so much more intense than anything I had experienced before that I resolved to keep myself for this higher joy. No more self-abuse for me; I knew something infinitely better. One kiss was better, one touch of a girl’s sex.

That kissing and caressing a girl could inculcate self-restraint is not taught by our spiritual guides and masters; but is nevertheless true. Another cognate experience came at this time to reinforce the same lesson. I had read all Scott and his heroine Di Vernon made a great impression on me. I resolved now to keep all my passion for some Di Vernon in the future. Thus the first experiences of passion and the reading of a love story completely cured me of the bad habit of self-abuse.

Naturally after this first divine experience, I was on edge for a second and keen as a questing hawk. I could not see E… till the next music-lesson, a week to wait; but even such a week comes to an end, and once more we were imprisoned in our solitude behind the piano; but though I whispered all the sweet and pleading words I could imagine, E… did nothing but frown refusal and shake her pretty head. This killed for the moment all my faith in girls: why did she act so? I puzzled my brain for a reasonable answer and found none. It was part of the damned inscrutability of girls but at the moment it filled me with furious anger. I was savage with disappointment.

“You’re mean!” I whispered to her at long last and I would have said more if the organist hadn’t called on me for a solo which I sang very badly, so badly indeed that he made me come from behind the piano and thus abolished even the chance of future intimacies. Time and again I cursed organist and girl, but I was always on the alert for a similar experience. As dog fanciers say of hunting dogs, “I had tasted blood and could never afterwards forget the scent of it.”

Twenty-five years or more later, I dined with Frederic Chapman, the publisher of “The Fortnightly Review”, which I was then editing; he asked me some weeks afterwards had I noticed a lady and described her dress to me, adding, “She was very curious about you. As soon as you came into the room she recognized you and has asked me to tell her if you recognized her; did you?”

I shook my head: “I’m near-sighted, you know”, I said, “and therefore to be forgiven, but when did she know me?”

He replied, “As a boy at school; she said you would remember her by her Christian name of E….”

“Of course I do”, I cried, “Oh! please tell me her name and where she lives. I’ll call on her, I want (and then reflection came to suggest prudence) to ask her some questions”, I added lamely.

“I can’t give you her name or address”, he replied, “I promised her not to, but she’s long been happily married I was to tell you.”

I pressed him but he remained obstinate, and on second thoughts I came to see that I had no right to push myself on a married woman who did not wish to renew acquaintance with me, but oh! I longed to see her and hear from her own lips the explanation of what to me at the time seemed her inexplicable, cruel change of attitude.

As a man, of course, I know she may have had a very good reason indeed, and her mere name still carries a glamour about it for me, an unforgettable fascination.

My father was always willing to encourage self-reliance in me: indeed, he tried to make me act as a man while I was still a mere child. The Christmas holidays only lasted for four weeks; it was cheaper for me, therefore, to take lodgings in some neighboring town rather than return to Ireland. Accordingly the Headmaster received the request to give me some seven pounds for my expenses and he did so, adding moreover much excellent advice.

My first holiday I spent in the watering-place of Rhyl in North Wales because a chum of mine, Evan Morgan, came from the place and told me he’d make it interesting for me. And in truth he did a good deal to make me like the people and love the place. He introduced me to three or four girls, among whom I took a great fancy to one Gertrude Hanniford. Gertie was over fifteen, tall and very pretty, I thought, with long plaits of chestnut hair; one of the best companions possible. She would kiss me willingly; but whenever I tried to touch her more intimately, she would wrinkle her little nose with “Don’t!” or “Don’t be dirty!”

One day I said to her reproachfully: “You’ll make me couple ‘dirty’ with ‘Gertie’ if you go on using it so often.” Bit by bit she grew tamer, though all too slowly for my desires; but luck was eager to help me.

One evening late we were together on some high ground behind the town when suddenly there came a great glare in the sky, which lasted two or three minutes: the next moment we were shaken by a sort of earthquake accompanied by a dull thud.

“An explosion!” I cried, “on the railway: let’s go and see!” And away we set off for the railway. For a hundred yards or so Gertie was as fast as I was; but after the first quarter of a mile I had to hold in so as not to leave her. Still for a girl she was very fast and strong. We took a footpath alongside the railway, for we found running over the wooden ties, very slow and dangerous. We had covered a little over a mile when we saw the blaze in front of us and a crowd of figures moving about before the glare.

In a few minutes we were opposite three or four blazing railway carriages and the wreck of an engine.

“How awful!” cried Gertie. “Let’s get over the fence”, I replied, “and go close!” The next moment I had thrown myself on the wooden paling and half vaulted, half clambered over it. But Gertie’s skirts prevented her from imitating me. As she stood in dismay, a great thought came to me: “Step on the low rail, Gertie”, I cried, “and then on the upper one and I’ll lift you over. Quick!”

At once she did as she was told and while she stood with a foot on each rail hesitating and her hand on my head to steady herself, I put my right hand and arm between her legs and pulling her at the same moment towards me with my left hand, I lifted her over safely but my arm was in her crotch and when I withdrew it, my right hand stopped on her sex and began to touch it:

It was larger than E…’s and had more hairs and was just as soft but she did not give me time to let it excite me so intensely.

“Don’t!” she exclaimed angrily: “take your hand away!” And slowly, reluctantly I obeyed, trying to excite her first; as she still scowled: “Come quick!” I cried and taking her hand drew her over to the blazing wreck.

In a little while we learned what had happened: a goods train loaded with barrels of oil had been at the top of the siding; it began to glide down of its own weight and ran into the Irish Express on its way from London to Holyhead. When the two met, the oil barrels were hurled over the engine of the express train, caught fire on the way and poured in flame over the first three carriages, reducing them and their unfortunate inmates to cinders in a very short time. There were a few persons burned and singed in the fourth and fifth carriages; but not many. Open-eyed we watched the gang of workmen lift out charred things like burnt logs rather than men and women, and lay them reverently in rows alongside the rails: about forty bodies, if I remember rightly, were taken out of that holocaust.

Suddenly Gertie realised that it was late and quickly hand in hand we made our way home: “they’ll be angry with me”, said Gertie, “for being so late, it’s after midnight.” “When you tell them what you’ve seen!” I replied, “they won’t wonder that we waited.” As we parted I said, “Gertie dear, I want to thank you—” “What for” she said shortly. “You know”, I said cunningly, “it was so kind of you”—she made a face at me and ran up the steps into her house.

Slowly I returned to my lodgings, only to find myself the hero of the house when I told the story in the morning.

That experience in common made Gertie and myself great friends. She used to kiss me and say I was sweet: once even she let me see her breasts when I told her a girl (I didn’t say who it was) had shown hers to me once: her breasts were nearly as large as my sister’s and very pretty. Gertie even let me touch her legs right up to the knee; but as soon as I tried to go further, she would pull down her dress with a frown. Still I was always going higher, making progress; persistence brings one closer to any goal; but alas, it was near the end of the Christmas holidays and though I returned to Rhyl at Easter, I never saw Gertie again.

When I was just over thirteen I tried mainly out of pity to get up a revolt of the fags, and at first had a partial success, but some of the little fellows talked and as a ringleader I got a trouncing. The Monitors threw me down on my face on a long desk: one sixth form boy sat on my head and another on my feet, and a third, it was Jones, laid on with an ashplant. I bore it without a groan but I can never describe the storm of rage and hate that boiled in me. Do English fathers really believe that such work is a part of education? It made me murderous. When they let me up, I looked at Jones and if looks could kill, he’d have had short shrift. He tried to hit me but I dodged the blow and went out to plot revenge.

Jones was the head of the cricket First Eleven in which I too was given a place just for my bowling. Vernon of the Sixth was the chief bowler, but I was second, the only boy in the lower school who was in the Eleven at all. Soon afterwards a team from some other school came over to play us: the rival captains met before the tent, all on their best behaviour; for some reason, Vernon not being ready or something, I was given the new ball. A couple of the masters stood near. Jones lost the toss and said to the rival captain very politely, “If you’re ready. Sir! we’ll go out.” The other captain bowed smiling, my chance had come:

“I’m not going to play with you, you brute!” I cried and dashed the ball in Jones’s face.

He was very quick and throwing his head aside, escaped the full force of the blow; still the seam of the new ball grazed his cheek-bone and broke the skin: everyone stood amazed: only people who know the strength of English conventions can realise the sensation. Jones himself did not know what to do but took out his handkerchief to mop the blood, the skin being just broken. As for me, I walked away by myself. I had broken the supreme law of our schoolboy honor: never to give away our dissensions to a master, still less to boys and masters from another school; I had sinned in public, too, and before everyone; I’d be universally condemned.

The truth is, I was desperate, dreadfully unhappy, for since the breakdown of the fags’ revolt the lower boys had drawn away from me and the older boys never spoke to me if they could help it and then it was always as “Pat.”

I felt myself an outcast and was utterly lonely and miserable as only despised outcasts can be. I was sure, too, I should be expelled and knew my father would judge me harshly; he was always on the side of the authorities and masters. However, the future was not to be as gloomy as my imagination pictured it.

The Mathematical Master was a young Cambridge man of perhaps six and twenty, Stackpole by name: I had asked him one day about a problem in algebra and he had been kind to me. On returning to the school this fatal afternoon about six, I happened to meet him on the edge of the playing field and by a little sympathy he soon drew out my whole story.

“I want to be expelled. I hate the beastly school”, was my cry. All the charm of the Irish schools was fermenting in me: I missed the kindliness of boy to boy and of the masters to the boys; above all the imaginative fancies of fairies and “the little people” which had been taught us by our nurses and though only half believed in; yet enriched and glorified life,—all this was lost to me. My head in especial, was full of stories of Banshees and fairy queens and heroes, half due to memory, half to my own shaping, which made me a desirable companion to Irish boys and only got me derision from the English.

“I wish I had known that you were being fagged”, Stackpole said when he had heard all, “I can easily remedy that”, and he went with me to the schoolroom and then and there erased my name from the fags’ list and wrote in my name in the First Mathematical Division.

“There”, he said with a smile, “you are now in the Upper School where you belong. I think”, he added, “I had better go and tell the Doctor what I’ve done. Don’t be down-hearted, Harris”, he added, “it’ll all come right.”

Next day the Sixth did nothing except cut out my name from the list of the First Eleven: I was told that Jones was going to thrash me but I startled my informant by saying: “I’ll put a knife into him if he lays a hand on me: you can tell him so.”

In fact, however, I was half sent to Coventry and what hurt me most was that it was the boys of the Lower School who were coldest to me, the very boys for whom I had been fighting. That gave me a bitter foretaste of what was to happen to me again and again all through my life.

The partial boycotting of me didn’t affect me much; I went for long walks in the beautiful park of Sir W. W— near the school.

I have said many harsh things here of English school life; but for me it had two great redeeming features: the one was the library which was open to every boy, and the other the physical training of the playing fields, the various athletic exercises and the gymnasium. The library to me for some months meant Walter Scott. How right George Eliot was to speak of him as “making the joy of many a young life.” Certain scenes of his made ineffaceable impressions on me though unfortunately not always his best work. The wrestling match between the Puritan, Balfour of Burleigh and the soldier was one of my beloved passages. Another favorite page was approved, too, by my maturer judgment, the brave suicide of the little atheist apothecary in the “Fair Maid of Perth.” But Scott’s finest work, such as the character painting of old Scotch servants, left me cold. Dickens I never could stomach, either as a boy or in later life. His “Tale of Two Cities” and “Nicholas Nickleby” seemed to me then about the best and I’ve never had any desire since to revise my judgment after reading; “David Copperfield” in my student days and finding men painted by a name or phrase or gesture, women by their modesty and souls by some silly catchword; “the mere talent of the caricaturist”, I said to myself, “at his best another Hogarth.”

Naturally the romances and tales of adventure were all swallowed whole; but few affected me vitally: “The Chase of the White Horse” by Mayne Reid, lives with me still because of the love-scenes with the Spanish heroine, and Marryat’s “Peter Simple” which I read a hundred times and could read again tomorrow; for there is better character painting in Chucks, the boatswain, than in all Dickens, in my poor opinion. I remember being astounded ten years later when Carlyle spoke of Marryat with contempt. I knew he was unfair, just as I am probably unfair to Dickens: after all, even Hogarth has one or two good pictures to his credit, and no one survives even three generations without some merit.

In my two years I read every book in the library, and half a dozen are still beloved by me.

I profited, too, from all games and exercises. I was no good at cricket; I was shortsighted and caught some nasty knocks through an unsuspected astigmatism; but I had an extraordinary knack of bowling which, as I have stated, put me in the First Eleven. I liked football and was good at it. I took the keenest delight in every form of exercise: I could jump and run better than almost any boy of my age and in wrestling and a little later in boxing, was among the best in the school. In the gymnasium, too, I practiced assiduously; I was so eager to excel that the teacher was continually advising me to go slow. At fourteen I could pull myself up with my right hand till my chin was above the bar.

In all games the English have a high ideal of fairness and courtesy. No one ever took an unfair advantage of another and courtesy was a law. If another school sent a team to play us at cricket or football, the victors always cheered the vanquished when the game was over, and it was a rule for the Captain to thank the Captain of the visitors for his kindness in coming and for the good game he had given us. This custom obtained too in the Royal Schools in Ireland that were founded for the English garrison, but I couldn’t help noting that these courtesies were not practiced in ordinary Irish schools. It was for years the only thing in which I had to admit the superiority of John Bull.

The ideal of a gentleman is not a very high one. Emerson says somewhere that the evolution of the gentleman is the chief spiritual product of the last two or three centuries; but the concept, it seems to me, dwarfs the ideal. A “gentleman” to me is a thing of some parts but no magnitude: one should be a gentleman and much more: a thinker, guide or artist.

English custom in the games taught me the value and need of courtesy, and athletics practiced assiduously did much to steel and strengthen my control of all my bodily desires: they gave my mind and reason the mastery of me. At the same time they taught me the laws of health and the necessity of obeying them.

I found out that by drinking little at meals I could reduce my weight very quickly and was thereby enabled to jump higher than ever; but when I went on reducing I learned that there was a limit beyond which, if I persisted, I began to lose strength: athletics taught me what the French call the juste milieu, the middle path of moderation.

When I was about fourteen I discovered that to think of love before going to sleep was to dream of it during the night. And this experience taught me something else; if I repeated any lesson just before going to sleep, I knew it perfectly next morning; the mind, it seems, works even during unconsciousness. Often since, I have solved problems during sleep in mathematics and in chess that have puzzled me during the day.




Chapter III. SCHOOL DAYS IN ENGLAND.

In my thirteenth year the most important experience took place of my schoolboy life. Walking out one day with a West Indian boy of sixteen or so, I admitted that I was going to be “confirmed” in the Church of England. I was intensely religious at this time and took the whole rite with appalling seriousness. “Believe and thou shalt be saved” rang in my ears day and night, but I had no happy conviction. Believe what? “Believe in me, Jesus.” Of course I believe; then I should be happy, and I was not happy.

“Believe not” and eternal damnation and eternal torture follow. My soul revolted at the iniquity of the awful condemnation. What became of the myriads who had not heard of Jesus? It was all a horrible puzzle to me; but the radiant figure and sweet teaching of Jesus just enabled me to believe and resolve to live as he had lived, unselfishly—purely. I never liked that word “purely” and used to relegate it to the darkest background of my thought. But I would try to be good—I’d try at least!

“Do you believe all the fairy stories in the Bible!” my companion asked.

“Of course I do”, I replied, “It’s the Word of God, isn’t it?” “Who is God?” asked the West Indian.

“He made the world”, I added, “all this wonder”—and with a gesture I included earth and sky.

“Who made God!” asked my companion.

I turned away stricken: in a flash I saw I had been building on a word taught to me: “who made God?” I walked away alone, up the long meadow by the little brook, my thoughts in a whirl: story after story that I had accepted were now to me “fairy stories.” Jonah hadn’t lived three days in a whale’s belly. A man couldn’t get down a whale’s throat. The Gospel of Matthew began with Jesus’ pedigree, showing that he had been born of the seed of David through Joseph, his father, and in the very next chapter you are told that Joseph wasn’t his father; but the Holy Ghost. In an hour the whole fabric of my spiritual beliefs lay in ruins about me: I believed none of it, not a jot, nor a tittle: I felt as though I had been stripped naked to the cold.

Suddenly a joy came to me: if Christianity was all lies and fairy-tales like Mahometanism, then the prohibitions of it were ridiculous and I could kiss and have any girl who would yield to me. At once I was partially reconciled to my spiritual nakedness: there was compensation.

The loss of my beliefs was for a long time very painful to me. One day I told Stackpole of my infidelity and he recommended me to read “Butler’s Analogy” and keep an open mind. Butler finished what the West Indian had begun and in my thirst for some certainty I took up a course of deeper reading. In Stackpole’s rooms one day I came across a book of Huxley’s Essays; in an hour I had swallowed them and proclaimed myself an “agnostic”; that’s what I was; I knew nothing surely, but was willing to learn.

I aged ten years mentally in the next six months: I was always foraging for books to convince me and at length got hold of Hume’s argument against miracles. That put an end to all my doubts, satisfied me finally. Twelve years later, when studying philosophy in Goettingen, I saw that Hume’s reasoning was not conclusive but for the time I was cured. At midsummer I refused to be confirmed. For weeks before, I had been reading the Bible for the most incredible stories in it and the smut, which I retailed at night to the delight of the boys in the big bedroom.

This year as usual I spent the midsummer holidays in Ireland. My father had made his house with my sister Nita wherever Vernon happened to be sent by his Bank. This summer was passed in Ballybay in County Monaghan, I think. I remember little or nothing about the village save that there was a noble series of reed-fringed lakes near the place which gave good duck and snipe shooting to Vernon in the autumn.

These holidays were memorable to me for several incidents. A conversation began one day at dinner between my sister and my eldest brother about making up to girls and winning them. I noticed with astonishment that my brother Vernon was very deferential to my sister’s opinion on the matter, so I immediately got hold of Nita after the lunch and asked her to explain to me what she meant by “flattery.” “You said all girls like flattery. What did you mean?”

“I mean”, she said, “they all like to be told they are pretty, that they have good eyes or good teeth or good hair, as the case may be, or that they are tall and nicely made. They all like their good points noticed and praised.”

“Is that all?” I asked. “Oh no!” she said, “they all like their dress noticed too and especially their hat; if it suits their face, if it’s very pretty and so forth.... All girls think that if you notice their clothes you really like them, for most men don’t.”

“Number two”, I said to myself: “is there anything else?”

“Of course”, she said, “you must say that the girl you are with, is the prettiest girl in the room or in the town, in fact is quite unlike any other girl, superior to all the rest, the only girl in the world for you. All women like to be the only girl in the world for as many men as possible.”

“Number three”, I said to myself: “Don’t they like to be kissed?” I asked.

“That comes afterwards”, said my sister, “lots of men begin with kissing and pawing you about before you even like them. That puts you off. Flattery first of looks and dress, then devotion and afterwards the kissing comes naturally.”

“Number four!” I went over these four things again and again to myself and began trying them even on the older girls and women about me and soon found that they all had a better opinion of me almost immediately.

I remember practicing my new knowledge first on the younger Miss Raleigh whom, I thought, Vernon liked. I just praised her as my sister had advised: first her eyes and hair (she had very pretty blue eyes). To my astonishment she smiled on me at once; accordingly I went on to say she was the prettiest girl in the town and suddenly she took my head in her hands and kissed me, saying “You’re a dear boy!”

[Illustration]

But my great experience was yet to come. There was a very good-looking man whom I met two or three times at parties; I think his name was Tom Connolly: I’m not certain, though I ought not to forget it; for I can see him as plainly as if he were before me now: five feet ten or eleven, very handsome with shaded violet eyes. Everybody was telling a story about him that had taken place on his visit to the Viceroy in Dublin. It appeared that the Vicereine had a very pretty French maid and Tom Connolly made up to the maid. One night the Vicereine was taken ill and sent her husband up stairs to call the maid. When the husband knocked at the maid’s door, saying that his wife wanted her, Tom Connolly replied in a strong voice:

“It’s unfriendly of you to interrupt a man at such a time.”

The Viceroy, of course, apologized immediately and hurried away, but like a fool he told the story to his wife who was very indignant and next day at breakfast she put an aide-de-camp on her right and Tom Connolly’s place far down the table. As usual, Connolly came in late and the moment he saw the arrangement of the places, he took it all in and went over to the aide-de-camp.

“Now, young man”, he said, “you’ll have many opportunities later, so give me my place”, and forthwith turned him out of his place and took his seat by the Vicereine, though she would barely speak to him.

At length Tom Connolly said to her: “I wouldn’t have thought it of you, for you’re so kind. Fancy blaming a poor young girl the first time she yields to a man!”

This response made the whole table roar and established Connolly’s fame for impudence throughout Ireland.

Everyone was talking of him and I went about after him all through the gardens and whenever he spoke, my large ears were cocked to hear any word of wisdom that might fall from his lips. At length he noticed me and asked me why I followed him about.

“Everybody says you can win any woman you like, Mr. Connolly”; I said half-ashamed: “I want to know how you do it, what you say to them.”

“Faith, I don’t know”, he said, “but you’re a funny little fellow. What age are you to be asking such questions?”

“I’m fourteen”, I said boldly.

“I wouldn’t have given you fourteen, but even fourteen is too young; you must wait.” So I withdrew but still kept within earshot.

I heard him laughing with my eldest brother over my question and so imagined that I was forgiven, and the next day or the day after, finding me as assiduous as ever, he said:

“You know, your question amused me and I thought I would try to find an answer to it and here is one. When you can put a stiff penis in her hand and weep profusely the while, you’re getting near any woman’s heart. But don’t forget the tears.” I found the advice a counsel of perfection; I was unable to weep at such a moment; but I never forgot the words.

There was a large barracks of Irish Constabulary in Ballybay and the Sub-Inspector was a handsome fellow of five feet nine or ten named Walter Raleigh. He used to say that he was a descendant of the famous courtier of Queen Elizabeth and he pronounced his name “Rolly” and assured us that his illustrious namesake had often spelt it in this way, which showed that he must have pronounced it as if written with an “o.” The reason I mention Raleigh here is that his sisters and mine were great friends and he came in and out of our house almost as if it were his own.

Every evening when Vernon and Raleigh had nothing better to do, they cleared away the chairs in our back parlor, put on boxing gloves and had a set-to. My father used to sit in a corner and watch them: Vernon was lighter and smaller; but quicker; still I used to think that Raleigh did not put out his full strength against him.

One of the first evenings when Vernon was complaining that Raleigh hadn’t come in or sent, my father said: “Why not try, Joe?” (my nickname!) In a jiffy I had the gloves on and got my first lesson from Vernon who taught me at least how to hit straight and then how to guard and side-step. I was very quick and strong for my size; but for some time Vernon hit me very lightly. Soon, however, it became difficult for him to hit me at all and then I sometimes got a heavy blow that floored me. But with constant practice I improved rapidly and after a fortnight or so put on the gloves once with Raleigh. His blows were very much heavier and staggered me even to guard them, so I got accustomed to duck or side-step or slip every blow aimed at me while hitting back with all my strength. One evening when Vernon and Raleigh both had been praising me, I told them of Jones and how he bullied me; he had really made my life a misery to me: he never met me outside the school without striking or kicking me and his favorite name for me was “bog-trotter!” His attitude, too, affected the whole school: I had grown to hate him as much as I feared him.

They both thought I could beat him; but I described him as very strong and finally Raleigh decided to send for two pairs of four ounce gloves or fighting gloves and use these with me to give me confidence. In the first half hour with the new gloves Vernon did not hit me once and I had to acknowledge that he was stronger and quicker even than Jones. At the end of the holidays they both made me promise to slap Jones’s face the very first time I saw him in the school.

On returning to school we always met in the big schoolroom. When I entered the room there was silence. I was dreadfully excited and frightened, I don’t know why; but fully resolved: “he can’t kill me”, I said to myself a thousand times; still I was in a trembling funk inwardly though composed enough in outward seeming. Jones and two others of the Sixth stood in front of the empty fire-place: I went up to them: Jones nodded, “How d’ye do, Pat!”

“Fairly”, I said, “but why do you take all the room?” and I jostled him aside: he immediately pushed me hard and I slapped his face as I had promised. The elder boys held him back or the fight would have taken place then and there: “will you fight?” he barked at me and I replied, “as much as you like, bully!” It was arranged that the fight should take place on the next afternoon, which happened to be a Wednesday and half-holiday. From three to six would give us time enough. That evening Stackpole asked me to his room and told me he would get the Doctor to stop the fight if I wished; I assured him it had to be and I preferred to have it settled.

“I’m afraid he’s too old and strong for you”, said Stackpole: I only smiled.

Next day the ring was made at the top of the playing field behind the haystack so that we could not be seen from the school. All the Sixth and nearly all the school stood behind Jones; but Stackpole, while ostensibly strolling about, was always close to me. I felt very grateful to him: I don’t know why; but his presence took away from my loneliness. At first the fight was almost like a boxing-match. Jones shot out his left hand, my head slipped it and I countered with my right in his face: a moment later he rushed me but I ducked and side-stepped and hit him hard on the chin. I could feel the astonishment of the school in the dead silence:

“Good, good!” cried Stackpole behind me: “that’s the way.” And indeed it was the “way” of the fight in every round except one. We had been hard at it for some eight or ten minutes when I felt Jones getting weaker or losing his breath: at once I went in attacking with all my might; when suddenly, as luck would have it, I caught a right swing just under the left ear and was knocked clean off my feet: he could hit hard enough, that was clear. As I went into the middle of the ring for the next round Jones jeered at me:

“You got that, didn’t ye, Pat!”

“Yes”, I replied, “but I’ll beat you black and blue for it” and the fight went on. I had made up my mind, lying on the ground, to strike only at his face. He was short and strong and my body-blows didn’t seem to make any impression on him; but if I could blacken all his face, the masters and especially the Doctor would understand what had happened.

Again and again Jones swung, first with right hand and then with his left, hoping to knock me down again; but my training had been too varied and complete and the knock-down blow had taught me the necessary caution: I ducked his swings, or side-stepped them and hit him right and left in the face till suddenly his nose began to bleed and Stackpole cried out behind me in huge excitement: “that’s the way, that’s the way; keep on peppering him!”

As I turned to smile at him, I found that a lot of the fags, former chums of mine, had come round to my corner and now were all smiling encouragement at me and bold exhortations to “give it him hard.” I then realized for the first time that I had only to keep on and be careful and the victory would be mine. A cold, hard exultation took the place of nervous excitement in me, and when I struck, I tried to cut with my knuckles as Raleigh had once shown me.

The bleeding of Jones’s nose took some time to stop and as soon as he came into the middle of the ring, I started it again with another right-hander. After this round, his seconds and backers kept him so long in his corner that at length, on Stackpole’s whispered advice, I went over and said to him: “Either fight or give in: I’m catching cold.” He came out at once and rushed at me full of fight, but his face was all one bruise and his left eye nearly closed. Every chance I got, I struck at the right eye till it was in an even worse case.

It is strange to me since that I never once felt pity for him and offered to stop: the truth is, he had bullied me so relentlessly and continually, had wounded my pride so often in public that even at the end I was filled with cold rage against him. I noticed everything: I saw that a couple of the Sixth went away towards the schoolhouse and afterwards returned with Shaddy, the second master. As they came round the haystack, Jones came out into the ring; he struck savagely right and left as I came within striking distance, but I slipped in outside his weaker left and hit him as hard as I could, first right, then left on the chin and down he went on his back.

At once there was a squeal of applause from the little fellows in my corner and I saw that Stackpole had joined Shaddy near Jones’s corner. Suddenly Shaddy came right up to the ringside and spoke, to my astonishment, with a certain dignity:

“This fight must stop now”, he said loudly, “if another blow is struck or word said, I’ll report the disobedience to the Doctor.” Without a word I went and put on my coat and waistcoat and collar, while his friends of the Sixth escorted Jones to the schoolhouse.

I had never had so many friends and admirers in my life as came up to me then to congratulate me and testify to their admiration and goodwill. The whole lower school was on my side, it appeared, and had been from the outset, and one or two of the Sixth, Herbert in especial, came over and praised me warmly: “A great fight”, said Herbert, “and now perhaps we’ll have less bullying: at any rate”, he added humorously, “no one will want to bully you: you’re a pocket professional: where did you learn to box?”

I had sense enough to smile and keep my own counsel. Jones didn’t appear in school that night: indeed, for days after he was kept in sick-bay upstairs. The fags and lower school boys brought me all sorts of stories how the doctor had come and said “he feared erysipelas: the bruises were so large and Jones must stay in bed and in the dark!” and a host of other details.

One thing was quite clear; my position in the school was radically changed: Stackpole spoke to the Doctor and I got a seat by myself in his class-room and only went to the form-master for special lessons: Stackpole became more than ever my teacher and friend.

When Jones first appeared in the school, we met in the Sixth room while waiting for the Doctor to come in. I was talking with Herbert; Jones came in and nodded to me: I went over and held out my hand, “I’m glad you’re all right again!” He shook hands but said nothing. Herbert’s nod and smile showed me I had done right. “Bygones should be bygones”, he said in English fashion. I wrote the whole story to Vernon that night, thanking him, you may be sure, and Raleigh for the training and encouragement they had given me.

My whole outlook on life was permanently altered: I was cock-a-hoop and happy. One night I got thinking of E… and for the first time in months practiced Onanism. But next day I felt heavy and resolved that belief or no belief, self-restraint was a good thing for the health. All the next Christmas holidays spent in Rhyl, I tried to get intimate with some girl; but failed. As soon as I tried to touch even their breasts, they drew away. I liked girls fully formed and they all thought, I suppose, that I was too young and too small: if they had only known!

One more incident belongs in this thirteenth year, and is worthy perhaps of record. Freed of the bullying and senseless cruelty of the older boys who for the most part, still siding with Jones, left me severely alone, the restraints of school life began to irk me. “If I were free”, I said to myself, “I’d go after E… or some other girl and have a great time; as it is, I can do nothing, hope for nothing.” Life was stale, flat and unprofitable to me. Besides, I had read nearly all the books I thought worth reading in the school library, and time hung heavy on my hands: I began to long for liberty as a caged bird.

What was the quickest way out? I knew that my father as a Captain in the Navy could give me or get me a nomination so that I might become a Midshipman. Of course I’d have to be examined before I was fourteen; but I knew I could win a high place in any test.

The summer vacation after I was thirteen on the 14th of February I spent at home in Ireland as I have told, and from time to time, bothered my father to get me the nomination. He promised he would, and I took his promise seriously. All the autumn I studied carefully the subjects I was to be examined in and from time to time wrote to my father reminding him of his promise. But he seemed unwilling to touch on the matter in his letters which were mostly filled with Biblical exhortations, that sickened me with contempt for his brainless credulity. My unbelief made me feel immeasurably superior to him.

Christmas came and I wrote him a serious letter, insisting that he should keep his promise. For the first time in my life I flattered him, saying that I knew his word was sacred: but the time-limit was at hand and I was getting nervous lest some official delay might make me pass the prescribed limit of age. I got no reply: I wrote to Vernon who said he would do his best with the Governor. The days went on, the 14th of February came and went: I was fourteen. That way of escape into the wide world was closed to me by my father. I raged in hatred of him.

How was I to get free? Where should I go? What should I do? One day in an illustrated paper in ’68, I read of the discovery of the diamonds in the Cape, and then of the opening of the Diamond fields. That prospect tempted me and I read all I could about South Africa, but one day I found that the cheapest passage to the Cape cost fifteen pounds and I despaired. Shortly afterwards I read that a steerage passage to New York could be had for five pounds; that amount seemed to me possible to get; for there was a prize of ten pounds for books to be given to the second in the Mathematical scholarship exam that would take place in the summer: I thought I could win that, and I set myself to study Mathematics harder than ever.

The result was—but I shall tell the result in its proper place. Meanwhile I began reading about America and soon learned of the buffalo and Indians on the Great Plains and a myriad entrancing romantic pictures opened to my boyish imagining. I wanted to see the world and I had grown to dislike England; its snobbery, though I had caught the disease, was loathsome and worse still, its spirit of sordid self-interest. The rich boys were favored by all the Masters, even by Stackpole; I was disgusted with English life as I saw it. Yet there were good elements in it which I could not but see, which I shall try to indicate later.

Towards the middle of this winter term it was announced that at Midsummer, besides a scene from a play of Plautus to be given in Latin, the trial scene of “The Merchant of Venice” would also be played—of course, by boys of the Fifth and Sixth form only, and rehearsals immediately began. Naturally I took out “The Merchant of Venice” from the school library and in one day knew it by heart. I could learn good poetry by a single careful reading: bad poetry or prose was much harder.

Nothing in the play appealed to me except Shylock and the first time I heard Fawcett of the Sixth recite the part, I couldn’t help grinning: he repeated the most passionate speeches like a lesson in a singsong, monotonous voice. For days I went about spouting Shylock’s defiance and one day, as luck would have it, Stackpole heard me. We had become great friends: I had done all Algebra with him and was now devouring trigonometry, resolved to do Conic Sections afterwards, and then the Calculus. Already there was only one boy who was my superior and he was Captain of the Sixth, Gordon, a big fellow of over seventeen, who intended to go to Cambridge with the eighty Pound Mathematical Scholarship that summer.

Stackpole told the Head that I would be a good Shylock: Fawcett to my amazement didn’t want to play the Jew: he found it difficult even to learn the part, and finally it was given to me. I was particularly elated for I felt sure I could make a great hit.

One day my sympathy with the bullied got me a friend. The Vicar’s son Edwards was a nice boy of fourteen who had grown rapidly and was not strong. A brute of sixteen in the Upper Fifth was twisting his arm and hitting him on the writhen muscle and Edwards was trying hard not to cry. “Leave him alone, Johnson”, I said, “why do you bully?” “You ought to have a taste of it”, he cried, letting Edwards go, however.

“Don’t try it on if you’re wise”, I retorted.

“Pat would like us to speak to him”, he sneered and turned away. I shrugged my shoulders.

Edwards thanked me warmly for rescuing him and I asked him to come for a walk. He accepted and our friendship began, a friendship memorable for bringing me one novel and wonderful experience.

The Vicarage was a large house with a good deal of ground about it. Edwards had some sisters but they were too young to interest me; the French governess, on the other hand, Mlle. Lucille, was very attractive with her black eyes and hair and quick, vivacious manner. She was of medium height and not more than eighteen. I made up to her at once and tried to talk French with her from the beginning. She was very kind to me and we got on together at once. She was lonely, I suppose, and I began well by telling her she was the prettiest girl in the whole place and the nicest. She translated nicest, I remember, as la plus chic.

The next half-holiday Edwards went into the house for something. I told her I wanted a kiss, and she said:

“You’re only a boy, mais gentil”, and she kissed me. When my lips dwelt on hers, she took my head in her hands, pushed it away and looked at me with surprise.

“You are a strange boy”, she said musingly.

The next holiday I spent at the Vicarage. I gave her a little French love-letter I had copied from a book in the school library and I was delighted when she read it and nodded at me, smiling, and tucked it away in her bodice: “near her heart” I said to myself, but I had no chance even of a kiss for Edwards always hung about. But late one afternoon he was called away by his mother for something, and my opportunity came.

We usually sat in a sort of rustic summerhouse in the garden. This afternoon Lucille was seated leaning back in an armchair right in front of the door, for the day was sultry-close, and when Edwards went, I threw myself on the doorstep at her feet: her dress clung to her form, revealing the outlines of her thighs and breasts seductively. I was wild with excitement. Suddenly I noticed her legs were apart; I could see her slim ankles. Pulses awoke throbbing in my forehead and throat: I begged for a kiss and got on my knees to take it: she gave me one; but when I persisted, she repulsed me, saying:

“Non, non! sois sage!”

As I returned to my seat reluctantly, the thought came, “put your hand up her clothes”; I felt sure I could reach her sex. She was seated on the edge of the chair and leaning back. The mere idea shook and scared me: but what can she do, I thought: she can only get angry. I thought again of all possible consequences: the example with E… came to encourage and hearten me. I leaned round and knelt in front of her smiling, begging for a kiss, and as she smiled in return, I put my hand boldly right up her clothes on her sex. I felt the soft hairs and the form of it in breathless ecstasy; but I scarcely held it when she sprang upright: “how dare you!” she cried trying to push my hand away.

My sensations were too overpowering for words or act; my life was in my fingers; I held her cunt. A moment later I tried to touch her gently with my middle finger as I had touched E…: ’twas a mistake: I no longer held her sex and at once Lucille whirled round and was free.

“I have a good mind to strike you”, she cried; “I’ll tell Mrs. Edwards”, she snorted indignantly. “You’re a bad, bad boy and I thought you nice. I’ll never be kind to you again: I hate you!” she fairly stamped with anger.

I went to her, my whole being one prayer. “Don’t please spoil it all”, I cried. “You hurt so when you are angry, dear.” She turned to me hotly: “I’m really angry, angry”, she panted, “and you’re a hateful rude boy and I don’t like you any more”, and she turned away again, shaking her dress straight. “Oh, how could I help it?” I began, “You’re so pretty, oh, you are wonderful, Lucille.”

“Wonderful”, she repeated, sniffing disdainfully, but I saw she was mollified.

“Kiss me”, I pleaded, “and don’t be cross.”

“I’ll never kiss you again”, she replied quickly, “you can be sure of that.” I went on begging, praising, pleading for ever so long, till at length she took my head in her hands, saying:

“If you’ll promise never to do that again, never, I’ll give you a kiss and try to forgive you.”

“I can’t promise”, I said, “it was too sweet; but kiss me and I’ll try to be good.”

She kissed me a quick peck and pushed me away.

“Didn’t you like it?” I whispered, “I did awfully. I can’t tell you how I thrilled: oh, thank you, Lucille, thank you, you are the sweetest girl in all the world, and I shall always be grateful to you, you dear!”

She looked down at me musingly, thoughtfully; I felt I was gaining ground:

“You are lovely there”, I ventured in a whisper, “please, dear, what do you call it? I saw ‘chat’ once: is that right, ‘pussy’?”

“Don’t talk of it”, she cried impatiently, “I hate to think—”

“Be kind, Lucille”, I pleaded, “you’ll never be the same to me again: you were pretty before, chic and provoking, but now you’re sacred. I don’t love you, I adore you, reverence you, darling! May I say ‘pussy’?”

“You’re a strange boy”, she said at length, “but you must never do that again; it’s nasty and I don’t like it. I—”

“Don’t say such things!” I cried, pretending indignation, “you don’t know what you’re saying—nasty! Look, I’ll kiss the fingers that have touched your pussy”, and I suited the action to the word.

“Oh, don’t!” she cried and caught my hand in hers, “don’t!” but somehow she leaned against me at the same time and left her lips on mine. Bit by bit my right hand went down to her sex again, this time on the outside of her dress, but at once she tore herself away and would not let me come near her again. My insane desire had again made me blunder! Yet she had half-yielded, I knew, and that consciousness set me thrilling with triumph and hope, but alas! at that moment we heard Edwards shout to us as he left the house to rejoin us.

This experience had two immediate and unlooked for consequences: first of all, I could not sleep that night for thinking of Lucille’s sex; it was like a large fig split in the middle, and set in a mesh of soft hairs: I could feel it still on my fingers and my sex stood stiff and throbbed with desire for it.

When I fell asleep I dreamed of Lucille, dreamed that she had yielded to me and I was pushing my sex into hers; but there was some obstacle and while I was pushing, pushing, my seed spirted in an orgasm of pleasure—and at once I awoke and, putting down my hand, found that I was still coming: the sticky, hot, milk-like sperm was all over my hairs and prick.

I got up and washed and returned to bed; the cold water had quieted me; but soon by thinking of Lucille and her soft, hot, hairy “pussy”, I grew randy again and in this state fell asleep. Again I dreamed of Lucille and again I was trying, trying in vain to get into her when again the spasm of pleasure overtook me; I felt my seed spirting hot and—awoke.

But lo! when I put my hand down, there was no seed, only a little moisture just at the head of my sex—nothing more. Did it mean that I could only give forth seed once? I tested myself at once: while picturing Lucille’s sex, its soft hot roundnesses and hairs, I caressed my sex, moving my hand faster up and down till soon I brought on the orgasm of pleasure and felt distinctly the hot thrills as if my seed were spirting, but nothing came, hardly even the moisture.

Next morning I tested myself at the high jump and found I couldn’t clear the bar at an inch lower than usual. I didn’t know what to do: why had I indulged so foolishly?

But next night the dream of Lucille came back again, and again I awoke after an acute spasm of pleasure, all wet with my own seed. What was I to do? I got up and washed and put cold water in a sponge on my testicles and sex and all chilled crawled back into bed. But imagination was master. Time and again the dream came and awakened me. In the morning I felt exhausted, washed-out and needed no test to assure me that I was physically below par.

That same afternoon I picked up by chance a little piece of whipcord and at once it occurred to me that if I tied this hard cord round my penis, as soon as the organ began to swell and stiffen in excitement, the cord would grow tight and awake me with the pain.

That night I tied up Tommy and gave myself up to thoughts of Lucille’s private parts: as soon as my sex stood and grew stiff, the whipcord hurt dreadfully and I had to apply cold water at once to reduce my unruly member to ordinary proportions. I returned to bed and went to sleep: I had a short sweet dream of Lucille’s beauties but then awoke in agony. I got up quickly and sat on the cold marble slab of the washing-stand. That acted more speedily than even the cold water; why? I didn’t learn the reason for many a year.

The cord was effective, did all I wanted: after this experience I wore it regularly and within a week was again able to walk under the bar and afterwards jump it, able too to pull myself up with one hand till my chin was above the bar. I had conquered temptation and once more was captain of my body.

The second unsuspected experience was also a direct result, I believe, of my sex-awakening with Lucille and the intense sex-excitement. At all events it came just after the love-passages with her that I have described and post hoc is often propter hoc.

[Illustration]

I had never yet noticed the beauties of nature; indeed whenever I came across descriptions of scenery in my reading, I always skipped them as wearisome. Now of a sudden, in a moment, my eyes were unsealed to natural beauties. I remember the scene and my rapt wonder as if it were yesterday. It was a bridge across the Dee near Overton in full sunshine; on my right the river made a long curve, swirling deep under a wooded height, leaving a little tawny sandbank half bare just opposite to me: on my left both banks, thickly wooded, drew together and passed round a curve out of sight. I was entranced and speechless—enchanted by the sheer color-beauty of the scene—sunlit water there and shadowed here, reflecting the gorgeous vesture of the wooded height. And when I left the place and came out again and looked at the adjoining cornfields, golden against the green of the hedgerows and scattered trees, the colors took on a charm I had never noticed before: I could not understand what had happened to me.

It was the awakening of sex-life in me, I believe, that first revealed to me the beauty of inanimate nature.

A night or two later I was ravished by a moon nearly at the full that flooded our playing field with ivory radiance, making the haystack in the corner a thing of supernal beauty.

Why had I never before seen the wonder of the world? the sheer loveliness of nature all about me? From this time on I began to enjoy descriptions of scenery in the books I read and began, too, to love landscapes in painting.

Thank goodness! the miracle was accomplished, at long last, and my life enriched, ennobled, transfigured as by the bounty of a God! From that day on I began to live an enchanted life; for at once I tried to see beauty everywhere, and at all times, of day and night caught glimpses that ravished me with delight and turned my being into a hymn of praise and joy.

Faith had left me and with faith, hope in Heaven or indeed in any future existence: saddened and fearful, I was as one in prison with an undetermined sentence; but now in a moment the prison had become a paradise, the walls of the actual had fallen away into frames of entrancing pictures. Dimly I became conscious that if this life were sordid and mean, petty and unpleasant, the fault was in myself and in my blindness. I began then for the first time to understand that I myself was a magician and could create my own fairyland, ay and my own heaven, transforming this world into the throne-room of a god!

This joy, and this belief I want to impart to others more than almost anything else, for this has been to me a new Gospel of courage and resolve and certain reward, a man’s creed teaching that as you grow in wisdom and courage and kindness, all good things are added unto you.

I find that I am outrunning my story and giving here a stage of thought and belief that only became mine much later; but the beginning of my individual soul-life was this experience, that I had been blind to natural beauty and now could see; this was the root and germ, so to speak, of the later faith that guided all my mature life, filling me with courage and spilling over into hope and joy ineffable.

Very soon the first command of it came to my lips almost every hour: “Blame your own blindness! always blame yourself!”




Chapter IV. FROM SCHOOL TO AMERICA.

Early in January there was a dress rehearsal of the Trial Scene of “The Merchant of Venice.” The Grandee of the neighborhood who owned the great park, Sir W. W. W., some M.P.’s, notably a Mr. Whalley who had a pretty daughter and lived in the vicinity, and the Vicar and his family were invited, and others whom I did not know; but with the party from the Vicarage came Lucille.

The big schoolroom had been arranged as a sort of theatre and the estrade at one end where the Head-Master used to throne it on official occasions, was converted into a makeshift stage and draped by a big curtain that could be drawn back or forth at will.

The Portia was a very handsome lad of sixteen named Herbert, gentle and kindly, yet redeemed from effeminacy by the fact that he was the fleetest sprinter in the school and could do the hundred yards in eleven and a half seconds. The “Duke” was, of course, Jones and the merchant “Antonio” a big fellow named Vernon, and I had got Edwards the part of “Bassanio” and a pretty boy in the Fourth Form was taken as “Nerissa.” So far as looks went the cast was passable; but the “Duke” recited his lines as if they had been imperfectly learned and so the “Trial Scene” opened badly. But the part of “Shylock” suited me intimately and I had learned how to recite. Now before E… and Lucille, I was set on doing better than my best. When my cue came I bowed low before the “Duke” and then bowed again to left and right of him in silence and formally, as if I, the outcast Jew, were saluting the whole court; then in a voice that at first I simply made slow and clear and hard, I began the famous reply:

            “I have possessed your Grace of what I purpose;
             And by our Holy Sabbath have I sworn
             To have the due and forfeit of my bond.”

I don’t expect to be believed; but nevertheless I am telling the bare truth when I say that in my impersonation of “Shylock” I brought in the very piece of “business” that made Henry Irving’s “Shylock” fifteen years later, “ever memorable”, according to the papers.

When at the end, baffled and beaten, Shylock gives in:

             “I pray you, give me leave to go from hence,
              I am not well: send the deed after me,
              And I will sign it,”

the Duke says, “Get thee gone, but do it,” and Gratiano insults the Jew—the only occasion, I think, when Shakespeare allows the beaten to be insulted by a gentleman.

On my way to the door as Shylock, I stopped, bent low before the Duke’s dismissal; but at Gratiano’s insult, I turned slowly round, while drawing myself up to my full height and scanning him from head to foot.

Irving used to return all across the stage and folding his arms on his breast look down on him with measureless contempt.

When fifteen years later Irving, at the Garrick Club one night after supper, asked me what I thought of this new “business”; I replied that if Shylock had done what he did, Gratiano would probably have spat in his face and then kicked him off the stage. Shylock complains that the Christians spat upon his gaberdine.

My boyish, romantic reading of the part, however, was essentially the same as Irving’s, and Irving’s reading was cheered in London to the echo because it was a rehabilitation of the Jew, and the Jew rules the roost today in all the cities of Europe.

At my first words I could feel the younger members of the audience look about as if to see if such reciting as mine was proper and permitted; then one after the other gave in to the flow and flood of passion. When I had finished everyone cheered, Whalley and Lady W… enthusiastically, and to my delight, Lucille as well.

After the rehearsal, everyone crowded about me: “Where did you learn?” “Who taught you?” At length Lucille came. “I knew you were someone”, she said in her pretty way, “quelqu’un”, “but it was extraordinary! You’ll be a great actor, I’m sure.”

“And yet you deny me a kiss”, I whispered, taking care no one should hear.

“I deny you nothing”, she replied, turning away, leaving me transfixed with hope and assurance of delight. “Nothing”, I said to myself, “nothing means everything”; a thousand times I said it over to myself in an ecstasy.

That was my first happy night in England. Mr. Whalley congratulated me and introduced me to his daughter who praised me enthusiastically, and best of all the Doctor said, “We must make you Stage Manager, Harris, and I hope you’ll put some of your fire into the other actors.”

To my astonishment my triumph did me harm with the boys. Some sneered, while all agreed that I did it to show off. Jones and the Sixth began the boycott again. I didn’t mind much, for I had heavier disappointments and dearer hopes.

The worst was I found it difficult to see Lucille in the bad weather; indeed I hardly caught a glimpse of her the whole winter. Edwards asked me frequently to the Vicarage; she might have made half a dozen meetings but she would not, and I was sick at heart with disappointment and the regret of unfulfilled desire. It was March or April before I was alone with her in her schoolroom at the Vicarage. I was too cross with her to be more than polite. Suddenly she said, “Vous me boudez.” I shrugged my shoulders.

“You don’t like me”, I began, “so what’s the use of my caring.”

“I like you a great deal”, she said, “but—”

“No, no”, I said, shaking my head, “if you liked me, you wouldn’t avoid me and—”

“Perhaps it’s because I like you too much—”

“Then you’d make me happy”, I broke in.

“Happy”, she repeated, “How can I?”

“By letting me kiss you, and—”

“Yes, and—” she repeated significantly.

“What harm does it do you?” I asked.

“What harm”, she repeated, “Don’t you know it’s wrong? One should only do that with one’s husband; you know that.”

“I don’t know anything of the sort”, I cried, “That’s all silly. We don’t believe that today.”

“I believe it”, she said gravely.

“But if you didn’t, you’d let me”, I cried, “say that, Lucille, that would be almost as good, for it would show you liked me a little.”

“You know I like you a great deal”, she replied.

“Kiss me then”, I said, “there’s no harm in that”, and when she kissed me I put my hand over her breasts; they thrilled me they were so elastic-firm, and in a moment my hand slid down her body, but she drew away at once quietly but with resolve.

“No, no”, she said, half smiling.

“Please!” I begged.

“I can’t”, she said, shaking her head, “I mustn’t. Let us talk of other things—How is the play getting on?” But I could not talk of the play as she stood there before me. For the first time I divined through her clothes nearly all the beauties of her form. The bold curves of hip and breast tantalized me and her face was expressive and defiant.

How was it I had never noticed all the details before? Had I been blind? or did Lucille dress to show off her figure? Certainly her dresses were arranged to display the form more than English dresses, but I too had become more curious, more observant. Would life go on showing me new beauties I had not even imagined?

My experience with E… and Lucille made the routine of school life almost intolerable to me. I could only force myself to study by reminding myself of the necessity of winning the second prize in the Mathematical Scholarship, which would give me ten pounds, and ten pounds would take me to America.

Soon after the Christmas holidays I had taken the decisive step. The examination in winter was not nearly so important as the one that ended the summer term, but it had been epoch-making to me. My punishments having compelled me to learn two or three books of Vergil by heart and whole chapters of Caesar and Livy, I had come to some knowledge of Latin: in the examination I had beaten not only all my class, but thanks to trigonometry and Latin and history, all the two next classes as well. As soon as the school reassembled I was put in the Upper Fifth. All the boys were from two to three years older than I was, and they all made cutting remarks about me to each other and avoided speaking to “Pat.” All this strengthened my resolution to get to America as soon as I could.

Meanwhile I worked as I had never worked: at Latin and Greek as well as Mathematics; but chiefly at Greek, for there I was backward: by Easter I had mastered the grammar—irregular verbs and all—and was about the first in the class. My mind, too, through my religious doubts and gropings and through the reading of the thinkers had grown astonishingly: one morning I construed a piece of Latin that had puzzled the best in the class and the Doctor nodded at me approvingly. Then came the step I spoke of as decisive.

The morning prayers were hardly over one bitter morning when the Doctor rose and gave out the terms of the scholarship Exam at Midsummer; the winner to get eighty pounds a year for three years at Cambridge, and the second ten pounds with which to buy books. “All boys”, he added, “who wish to go in for this scholarship will now stand up and give their names.” I thought only Gordon would stand up, but when I saw Johnson get up and Fawcett and two or three others I too got up… A sort of derisive growl went through the school; but Stackpole smiled at me and nodded his head as much as to say, “they’ll see”, and I took heart of grace and gave my name very distinctly. Somehow I felt that the step was decisive.

I liked Stackpole and this term he encouraged me to come to his rooms to talk whenever I felt inclined, and as I had made up my mind to use all the half-holidays for study, this association did me a lot of good and his help was invaluable.

One day when he had just come into his room, I shot a question at him and he stopped, came over to me and put his arm on my shoulder as he answered. I don’t know how I knew; but by some instinct I felt a caress in the apparently innocent action. I didn’t like to draw away or show him that I objected; but I buried myself feverishly in the Trigonometry and he soon moved away.

When I thought of it afterwards, I recalled the fact that his marked liking for me began after my fight with Jones. I had often been on the point of confessing to him my love-passages; but now I was glad I had kept them strenuously to myself, for day by day I noticed that his liking for me grew or rather his compliments and flatteries increased. I hardly knew what to do: working with him and in his room was a godsend to me; yet at the same time I didn’t like him much or admire him really.

In some ways he was curiously dense; he spoke of the school life as the happiest of all and the healthiest; a good moral tone here, he would say, no lying, cheating or scandal, much better than life outside. I used to find it difficult not to laugh in his face. Moral tone indeed! when the Doctor came down out of temper, it was usually accepted among the boys that he had had his wife in the night and was therefore a little below par physically.

Though a really good mathematical scholar and a first-rate teacher, patient and painstaking, with a gift of clear exposition, Stackpole seemed to me stupid and hidebound and I soon found that by laughing at his compliments I could balk his desire to lavish on me his unwelcome caresses.

Once he kissed me, but my amused smile made him blush while he muttered shamefacedly, “You’re a queer lad!” At the same time I knew quite well that if I encouraged him, he would take further liberties.

One day he talked of Jones and Henry H… He had evidently heard something of what had taken place in our bedroom; but I pretended not to know what he meant and when he asked me whether none of the big boys had made up to me, I ignored big Fawcett’s smutty excursions and said “No” adding that I was interested in girls and not in dirty boys. For some reason or other Stackpole seemed to me younger than I was and not twelve years older, and I had no real difficulty in keeping him within the bounds of propriety till the Math Exam.

I was asked once whether I thought that “Shaddy”, as we called the House-master, had ever had a woman. The idea of “Shaddy” as a virgin filled us with laughter; but when one spoke of him as a lover, it was funnier still. He was a man about forty, tall and fairly strong: he had a degree from some college in Manchester, but to us little snobs he was a bounder because he had not been to either Oxford or Cambridge. He was fairly capable, however.

But for some reason or other he had a down on me and I grew to hate him, and was always thinking of how I might hurt him. My new habit of forcing myself to watch and observe everything came to my aid. There were five or six polished oak-steps up to the big bedroom where fourteen of us slept. “Shaddy” used to give us half an hour to get into bed and then would come up, and standing just inside the door under the gas-light would ask us, “Have you all said your prayers?” We all answered: “Yes, sir”, then would come his “Goodnight, boys”, and our stereotyped reply: “Good night, Sir.”

He would then turn out the light and go downstairs to his room. The oak-steps outside were worn in the middle and I had noticed that as one goes downstairs one treads on the very edge of each step.

One day “Shaddy” had maddened me by giving me one hundred lines of Vergil to learn by heart for some trifling peccadillo. That night, having provided myself with a cake of brown Windsor soap, I ran upstairs before the other boys and rubbed the soap freely on the edge of the two top steps, and then went on to undress.

When “Shaddy” put out the light and stepped down to the second step, there was a slip and then a great thud as he half slid, half fell to the bottom. In a moment, for my bed was nearest the door, I had sprung up, opened the door and made incoherent exclamations of sympathy as I helped him to get up.

“I’ve hurt my hip”, he said, putting his hand on it. He couldn’t account for his fall.

Grinning to myself as I went back, I rubbed the soap off the top step with my handkerchief and got into bed again, where I chuckled over the success of my stratagem. He had only got what he richly deserved, I said to myself.

At length the long term wore to its end; the Exam was held and after consulting Stackpole I was very sure of the second prize. “I believe”, he said one day, “that you’d rather have the second prize than the first.” “Indeed I would”, I replied without thinking.

“Why?” he asked, “why!” I only just restrained myself in time or I’d have given him the true reason. “You’ll come much nearer winning the Scholarship”, he said at length, “than any of them guesses.”

After the “Exams” came the athletic games, much more interesting than the beastly lessons. I won two first prizes and Jones four, but I gained fifteen “seconds”, a record, I believe, for according to my age I was still in the Lower School.

I was fully aware of the secret of my success and strange to say, it did not increase but rather diminished my conceit. I won, not through natural advantages but by will-power and practice. I should have been much prouder had I succeeded through natural gifts. For instance, there was a boy named Reggie Miller, who at sixteen was five feet ten in height, while I was still under five feet: do what I would, he could jump higher than I could, though he only jumped up to his chin while I could jump the bar above my head. I believed that Reggie could easily practice and then outjump me still more. I had yet to learn in life that the resolved will to succeed was more than any natural advantage. But this lesson only came to me later. From the beginning I was taking the highway to success in everything by strengthening my will even more than my body. Thus, every handicap in natural deficiency turns out to be an advantage in life to the brave soul, whereas every natural gift is surely a handicap. Demosthenes had a difficulty in his speech, practising to overcome this, made him the greatest of orators.

The last day came at length and at eleven o’clock all the school and a goodly company of guests and friends gathered in the schoolroom to hear the results of the examinations and especially the award of the scholarships. Though most of the boys were early at the great blackboard where the official figures were displayed, I didn’t even go near it till one little boy told me shyly: “You’re head of your Form and sure of your remove.”

I found this to be true, but wasn’t even elated. A Cambridge professor, it appeared, had come down in person to announce the result of the “Math” Scholarship.

He made a rather long talk, telling us that the difficulty of deciding had been unusually great, for there was practical equality between two boys: indeed he might have awarded the scholarship to No. 9 (my number) and not to No. 1, on the sheer merit of the work, but when he found that the one boy was under fifteen while the other was eighteen and ready for the University, he felt it only right to take the view of the Head-Master and give the Scholarship to the older boy, for the younger one was very sure to win it next year and even next year he would still be too young for University life. He therefore gave the Scholarship to Gordon and the second prize of ten pounds to Harris. Gordon stood up and bowed his thanks while the whole school cheered and cheered again: then the Examiner called on me. I had taken in the whole situation. I wanted to get away with all the money I could and as soon as I could. My cue was to make myself unpleasant: accordingly, I got up and thanked the Examiner, saying that I had no doubt of his wish to be fair, “but”, I added, “had I known the issue was to be determined by age, I should not have entered. Now I can only say that I will never enter again”, and I sat down.

The sensation caused by my little speech was a thousand times greater than I had expected. There was a breathless silence and mute expectancy. The Cambridge Professor turned to the Head of the school and talked with him very earnestly, with visible annoyance, indeed, and then rose again.

“I must say”, he began, “I have to say”, repeating himself, “that I feel the greatest sympathy with Harris. I was never in so embarrassing a position. I, I must leave the whole responsibility with the Head-Master. I can’t do anything else, unfortunately!” and he sat down, evidently annoyed.

The Doctor got up and made a long hypocritical speech: It was one of those difficult decisions one is forced sometimes to make in life: he was sure that everyone would agree that he had tried to act fairly, and so far as he could make it up to the younger boy, he certainly would: he hoped next year to award him the Scholarship with as good a heart as he now gave him his cheque; and he fluttered it in the air.

The Masters all called me and I went up to the platform and accepted the cheque, smiling with delight, and when the Cambridge Professor shook hands with me and would have further excused himself, I whispered shyly, “it’s all right, Sir, I’m glad that you decided as you did.” He laughed aloud with pleasure, put his arm round my shoulder and said:

“I’m obliged to you, you’re certainly a good loser, or winner perhaps I ought to have said, and altogether a remarkable boy. Are you really under sixteen?” I nodded smiling, and the rest of the prize-giving went off without further incident, save that when I appeared on the platform to get the Form prize of books, he smiled pleasantly at me and led the cheering.

I’ve described the whole incident, for it illustrates to me the English desire to be fair: it is really a guiding impulse in them, on which one may reckon, and so far as my experience goes, it is perhaps stronger in them than in any other race. If it were not for their religious hypocrisies, childish conventions and above all, their incredible snobbishness, their love of fair play alone would make them the worthiest leaders of humanity. All this I felt then as a boy as clearly as I see it today.

I knew that the way of my desire was open to me. Next morning I asked to see the Head; he was very amiable; but I pretended to be injured and disappointed. “My father”, I said, “reckons, I think, on my success and I’d like to see him before he hears the bad news from anyone else. Would you please give me the money for my journey and let me go today? It isn’t very pleasant for me to be here now.”

“I’m sorry”, said the Doctor (and I think he was sorry), “of course I’ll do anything I can to lighten your disappointment. It’s very unfortunate but you must not be down-hearted: Professor S... says that your papers ensure your success next year, and I—well, I’ll do anything in my power to help you.”

I bowed: “Thank you, Sir. Could I go today? There’s a train to Liverpool at noon?”

“Certainly, certainly, if you wish it”, he said, “I’ll give orders immediately” and he cashed the cheque for ten pounds as well, with only a word that it was nominally to be used to buy books with, but he supposed it did not matter seriously.

By noon I was in the train for Liverpool with fifteen pounds in my pocket, five pounds being for my fare to Ireland. I was trembling with excitement and delight; at length I was going to enter the real world and live as I wished to live. I had no regrets, no sorrows, I was filled with lively hopes and happy presentiments.

As soon as I got to Liverpool, I drove to the Adelphi Hotel and looked out the steamers and soon found one that charged only four pounds for a steerage passage to New York, and to my delight this steamer was starting next day about two o’clock. By four o’clock I had booked my passage and paid for it. The Clerk said something or other about bedding; but I paid no attention. For just on entering his office I had seen an advertisement of “The Two Roses”, a “romantic drama” to be played that night, and I was determined to get a seat and see it. Do you know what courage that act required? More than was needed to cut loose from everyone I loved and go to America. For my father was a Puritan of the Puritans and had often spoken of the theatre as the “open door to Hell.”

I had lost all belief in Hell or Heaven, but a cold shiver went through me as I bought my ticket and time and again in the next four hours I was on the point of forfeiting it without seeing the play. What if my father was right? I couldn’t help the fear that came over me like a vapour.

I was in my seat as the curtain rose and sat for three hours enraptured; it was just a romantic love-story but the heroine was lovely and affectionate and true and I was in love with her at first sight. When the play was over I went into the street, resolved to keep myself pure for some girl like the heroine: no moral lesson I have received before or since can compare with that given me by that first night in a theatre. The effect lasted for many a month and made self-abuse practically impossible to me ever afterwards. The preachers may digest this fact at their leisure.

The next morning I had a good breakfast at the Adelphi Hotel and before ten was on board the steamer, had stowed away my trunk and taken my station by my sleeping place traced in chalk on the deck. About noon the Doctor came round, a young man of good height with a nonchalant manner, reddish hair, roman nose and easy, unconventional ways.

“Whose is this berth?” he asked, pointing to mine.

“Mine, Sir” I replied.

“Tell your father or mother”, he said curtly, “that you must have a mattress like this”, and he pointed to one, “and two blankets”, he added.

“Thank you, Sir”, I said and shrugged my shoulders at his interference. In another hour he came round again.

“Why is there no mattress here and no blanket?” he asked.

“Because I don’t need ’em”, I replied.

“You must have them”, he barked, “it’s the rule, d’ye understand?” and he hurried on with his inspection. In half an hour he was back again.

“You haven’t the mattress yet”, he snarled.

“I don’t want a mattress”, I replied.

“Where’s your father or mother”, he asked.

“Haven’t got any”, I retorted.

“Do they let children like you go to America” he cried, “What age are you?”

I was furious with him for exposing my youth there in public before everyone. “How does it matter to you?” I asked disdainfully. “You’re not responsible for me, thank God!”

“I am though”, he said, “to a certain degree at least. Are you really going to America on your own?”

“I am”, I rejoined casually and rudely.

“What to do?” was his next query.

“Anything I can get” I replied.

“Hum”, he muttered, “I must see to this.”

Ten minutes later he returned again. “Come with me”, he said, and I followed him to his cabin—a comfortable stateroom with a good berth on the right of the door as you entered, and a good sofa opposite.

“Are you really alone?” he asked.

I nodded, for I was a little afraid he might have the power to forbid me to go and I resolved to say as little as possible.

“What age are you?” was his next question.

“Sixteen”, I lied boldly.

“Sixteen!”, he repeated, “you don’t look it but you speak as if you had been well educated.” I smiled; I had already measured the crass ignorance of the peasants in the steerage.

“Have you any friends in America?” he asked.

“What do you want to question me for?” I demanded, “I’ve paid for my passage and I’m doing no harm.”

“I want to help you”, he said, “will you stay here until we draw out and I get a little time?”

“Certainly”, I said, “I’d rather be here than with those louts and if I might read your books—”

I had noticed that there were two little oak bookcases, one on each side of the washing-stand, and smaller books and pictures scattered about.

“Of course you may”, he rejoined and threw open the door of the bookcase. There was a Macaulay staring at me.

“I know his poetry”, I said, seeing that the book contained his “Essays” and was written in prose. “I’d like to read this.”

“Go ahead”, he said smiling, “in a couple of hours I’ll be back.” When he returned he found me curled upon his sofa, lost in fairyland. I had just come to the end of the essay on Clive and was breathless. “You like it?” he asked. “I should just think I did”, I replied, “it’s better even than his poetry”, and suddenly I closed the book and began to recite:

“With all his faults, and they were neither few nor small, only one cemetery was worthy to contain his remains. In the Great Abbey—”

The Doctor took the book from me where I held it.

“Are you reciting from Clive?” he asked.

“Yes”, I said, “but the essay on Warren Hastings is just as good”, and I began again:

“He looked like a great man, and not like a bad one. A person small and emaciated, yet deriving dignity from a carriage which, while it indicated deference to the Court, indicated also habitual self-possession and self-respect. A high and intellectual forehead; a brow pensive but not gloomy, a mouth of inflexible decision, a face on which was written as legibly as under the great picture in the Council Chamber of Calcutta, _Mens aequa in arduis_: such was the aspect with which the great proconsul presented himself to his judges.”

“Have you learned all this by heart?” cried the Doctor laughing.

“I don’t have to learn stuff like that”, I replied, “one reading is enough.”

He stared at me.

“I was surely right in bringing you down here”, he began, “I wanted to get you a berth in the Intermediate; but there’s no room: if you could put up with that sofa, I’d have the steward make up a bed for you on it.”

“Oh, would you!” I cried, “how kind of you, and you’ll let me read your books?” “Everyone of ’em”, he replied, adding, “I only wish I could make as good use of them.”

The upshot of it was that in an hour he had drawn some of my story from me and we were great friends. His name was Keogh. “Of course he’s Irish”, I said to myself, as I went to sleep that night: “no one else would have been so kind.”

The ordinary man will think I am bragging here about my memory. He’s mistaken. Swinburne’s memory especially for poetry was far, far better than mine, and I have always regretted the fact that a good memory often prevents one thinking for oneself. I shall come back to this belief of mine when I later explain how want of books gave me whatever originality I possess. A good memory and books at command are two of the greatest dangers of youth and form by themselves a terrible handicap, but like all gifts a good memory is apt to make you friends among the unthinking, especially when you are very young.

As a matter of fact, Doctor Keogh went about bragging of my memory and power of reciting, until some of the Cabin passengers became interested in the extraordinary schoolboy. The outcome was that I was asked to recite one evening in the First Cabin and afterwards a collection was taken up for me and a first-class passage paid and about twenty dollars over and above was given to me. Besides, an old gentleman offered to adopt me and play second father to me, but I had not got rid of one father to take on another, so I kept as far away from him as I decently could.

I am again, however, running ahead of my story. The second evening of the voyage, the sea got up a little and there was a great deal of sickness. Doctor Keogh was called out of his cabin and while he was away, someone knocked at the door. I opened it and found a pretty girl.

“Where’s the Doctor?” she asked. I told her he had been called to a cabin passenger.

“Please tell him”, she said, “when he returns, that Jessie Kerr, the chief Engineer’s daughter, would like to see him.”

“I’ll go after him now if you wish, Miss Jessie”, I said. “I know where he is.”

“It isn’t important”, she rejoined, “but I feel giddy and he told me he could cure it.”

“Coming up on deck is the best cure”, I declared: “the fresh air will soon blow the sick feeling away. You’ll sleep like a top and tomorrow morning you’ll he alright. Will you come?” She consented readily and in ten minutes admitted that the slight nausea had disappeared in the sharp breeze. As we walked up and down the dimly lighted deck I had now and then to support her, for the ship was rolling a little under a sou-wester. Jessie told me something about herself; how she was going to New York to spend some months with an elder married sister and how strict her father was. In return she had my whole story and could hardly believe I was only sixteen. Why she was over sixteen, and she could never have stood up and recited piece after piece as I did in the Cabin: she thought it “wonderful.”

Before she went down, I told her she was the prettiest girl on board and she kissed me and promised to come up the next evening and have another walk. “If you’ve nothing better to do” she said at parting, “you might come forward to the little Promenade Deck of the Second Cabin and I’ll get one of the men to arrange a seat in one of the boats for us.” “Of course”, I promised gladly and spent the next afternoon with Jessie in the stern-sheets of the great launch where we were out of sight of everyone, and out of hearing as well.

There we were, tucked in with two rugs and cradled, so to speak, between sea and sky, while the keen air whistling past increased our sense of solitude. Jessie, though rather short, was a very pretty girl with large hazel eyes and fair complexion.

I soon got my arm round her and kept kissing her till she told me she had never known a man so greedy of kisses as I was. It was delicious flattery to me to speak of me as a man and in return I raved about her eyes and mouth and form; caressing her left breast I told her I could divine the rest and knew she had a lovely body. But when I put my hand up her clothes, she stopped me when I got just above her knee and said:

“We’d have to be engaged before I could let you do that. Do you really love me?”

Of course I swore I did, but when she said she’d have to tell her father that we were engaged to be married, cold shivers went down my back.

“I can’t marry for a long time yet”, I said, “I’ll have to make a living first and I’m not very sure where I’ll begin.” But she had heard that an old man wished to adopt me and everyone said that he was very rich, and even her father admitted that I’d be “well fixed.”

Meanwhile my right hand was busy: I had got my fingers to her warm flesh between the stockings and the drawers and was wild with desire; soon mouth on mouth I touched her sex.

What a gorgeous afternoon we had! I had learned enough now to go slow and obey what seemed to be her moods. Gently, gently I caressed her sex with my finger till it opened and she leaned against me and kissed me of her own will, while her eyes turned up and her whole being was lost in thrills of ecstasy. When she asked me to stop and take my hand away, I did her bidding at once and was rewarded by being told that I was a “dear boy” and “a sweet” and soon the embracing and caressing began again. She moved now in response to my lascivious touchings and when the ecstasy came on her, she clasped me close and kissed me passionately with hot lips and afterwards in my arms wept a little and then pouted that she was cross with me for being so naughty. But her eyes gave themselves to me even while she tried to scold.

The dinner bell rang and she said she’d have to go, and we made a meeting for afterwards on the top deck; but as she was getting up, she yielded again to my hand with a little sigh and I found her sex all wet, wet!

She got down out of the boat by the main rigging and I waited a few moments before following her. At first our caution seemed likely to be rewarded, chiefly, I have thought since, because everyone believed me to be too young and too small to be taken seriously. But everything is quickly known on seaboard at least by the sailors.

I went down to Dr. Keogh’s cabin, once more joyful and grateful as I had been with E… My fingers were like eyes gratifying my curiosity, and the curiosity was insatiable. Jessie’s thighs were smooth and firm and round: I took delight in recalling the touch of them, and her bottom was firm like warm marble. I wanted to see her naked and study her beauties one after the other. Her sex too was wonderful, fuller even than Lucille’s and her eyes were finer. Oh, Life was a thousand times better than school. I thrilled with joy and passionate wild hopes—perhaps Jessie would let me, perhaps—I was breathless.

Our walk on deck that evening was not so satisfactory: the wind had gone down and there were many other couples and the men all seemed to know Jessie, and it was Miss Kerr here, and Miss Kerr there, till I was cross and disappointed; I couldn’t get her to myself, save at moments, but then I had to admit she was as sweet as ever and her Aberdeen accent even was quaint and charming to me.

I got some long kisses at odd moments and just before we went down I drew her behind a boat in the davits and was able to caress her little breasts and when she turned her back to me to go, I threw my arms round her hips and drew them against me and felt her sex and she leant her head back over her shoulder and gave me her mouth with dying eyes. The darling! Jessie was apt at all Love’s lessons.

The next day was cloudy and rain threatened, but we were safely ensconced in the boat by two o’clock, as soon as lunch was over, and we hoped no one had seen us. An hour passed in caressings and fondlings, in love’s words and love’s promises: I had won Jessie to touch my sex and her eyes seemed to deepen as she caressed it.

“I love you, Jessie, won’t you let it touch yours?”

She shook her head. “Not here, not in the open”, she whispered and then, “wait a little till we get to New York, dear”, and our mouths sealed the compact.

Then I asked her about New York and her sister’s house, and we were discussing where we should meet, when a big head and beard showed above the gunwale of the boat and a deep Scotch voice said: “I want ye, Jessie, I’ve been luiking everywhere for ye.”

“Awright, father”, she said, “I’ll be down in a minute.”

“Come quick”, said the voice as the head disappeared.

“I’ll tell him we love each other and he won’t be angry for long”, whispered Jessie; but I was doubtful. As she got up to go my naughty hand went up her dress behind and felt her warm, smooth buttocks. Ah, the poignancy of the ineffable sensations; her eyes smiled over her shoulder at me and she was gone—and the sunlight with her.

I still remember the sick disappointment as I sat in the boat alone. Life then like school had its chagrins, and as the pleasures were keener, the balks and blights were bitterer. For the first time in my life vague misgivings came over me, a heart-shaking suspicion that everything delightful and joyous in life had to be paid for—I wouldn’t harbor the fear. If I had to pay, I’d pay; after all, the memory of the ecstasy could never be taken away while the sorrow was fleeting. And that faith I still hold.

Next day the Chief Steward allotted me a berth in a cabin with an English midshipman of seventeen going out to join his ship in the West Indies. William Ponsonby was not a bad sort, but he talked of nothing but girls from morning till night and insisted that negresses were better than white girls: they were far more passionate, he said.

He showed me his sex; excited himself before me, while assuring me he meant to have a Miss LeBreton, a governess who was going out to take up a position in Pittsburg.

“But suppose you put her in the family way?” I asked.

“That’s not my funeral”, was his answer, and seeing that the cynicism shocked me, he went on to say there was no danger if you withdrew in time. Ponsonby never opened a book and was astoundingly ignorant: he didn’t seem to care to learn anything that hadn’t to do with sex. He introduced me to Miss LeBreton the same evening. She was rather tall, with fair hair and blue eyes, and she praised my reciting. To my wonder she was a woman and pretty, and I could see by the way she looked at Ponsonby that she was more than a little in love with him. He was above middle height, strong and good-tempered, and that was all I could see in him.

Miss Jessie kept away the whole evening and when I saw her father on the “upper deck”, he glowered at me and went past without a word. That night I told Ponsonby my story, or part of it, and he declared he would find a sailor to carry a note to Jessie next morning if I’d write it.

Besides, he proposed we should occupy the cabin alternate afternoons; for example, he’d take it next day and I mustn’t come near it, and if at any time one of us found the door locked, he was to respect his chum’s privacy. I agreed to it all with enthusiasm and went to sleep in a fever of hope. Would Jessie risk her father’s anger and come to me? Perhaps she would: at any rate I’d write and ask her and I did. In one hour the same sailor came back with her reply. It ran like this: “Dear love, father is mad, we shall have to take great care for two or three days: as soon as it’s safe, I’ll come—your loving Jess”, with a dozen crosses for kisses.

That afternoon, without thinking of my compact with Ponsonby, I went to our cabin and found the door locked: at once our compact came into my head and I went quietly away. Had he succeeded so quickly? and was she with him in bed? The half certainty made my heart beat.

That evening Ponsonby could not conceal his success but as he used it partly to praise his mistress. I forgave him.

“She has the prettiest figure you ever saw”, he declared, “and is really a dear. We had just finished when you came to the door. I said it was some mistake and she believed me. She wants me to marry her but I can’t marry. If I were rich I’d marry quick enough. It’s better than risking some foul disease”, and he went on to tell about one of his colleagues, John Lawrence, who got Black Pox, as he called syphilis, caught from a negress.

“He didn’t notice it for three months”, Ponsonby went on, “and it got into his system; his nose got bad and he was invalided home, poor devil. Those black girls are foul”, he continued, “they give everyone the clap and that’s bad enough, I can tell you; they’re dirty devils.” His ruttish sorrows didn’t interest me much, for I had made up my mind never at any time to go with any prostitute.

I came to several such uncommon resolutions on board that ship, and I may set down the chief of them here very briefly. First of all, I resolved that I would do every piece of work given to me as well as I could, so that no one coming after me could do it better. I had found out at school in the last term that if you gave your whole mind and heart to anything, you learned it very quickly and thoroughly. I was sure even before the trial that my first job would lead me straight to fortune. I had seen men at work and knew it would be easy to beat any of them. I was only eager for the trial.

I remember one evening I had waited for Jessie and she never came and just before going to bed, I went up into the bow of the ship where one was alone with the sea and sky, and swore to myself this great oath, as I called it in my romantic fancy: whatever I undertook to do, I would do it to the uttermost in me.

If I have had any success in life or done any good work, it is due in great part to that resolution.

I could not keep my thoughts from Jessie; if I tried to put her out of my head, I’d either get a little note from her, or Ponsonby would come begging me to leave him the cabin the whole day: at length in despair I begged her for her address in New York, for I feared to lose her forever in that maelstrom. I added that I would always be in my cabin and alone from one to half past if she could ever come.

That day she didn’t come, and the old gentleman who said he would adopt me, got hold of me, told me he was a banker and would send me to Harvard, the University near Boston; from what the Doctor had said of me, he hoped I would do great things. He was really kind and tried to be sympathetic, but he had no idea that what I wanted chiefly was to prove myself, to justify my own high opinion of my powers in the open fight of life. I didn’t want help and I absolutely resented his protective airs.

Next day in the cabin came a touch on the door and Jessie all flustered was in my arms. “I can only stay a minute”, she cried, “Father is dreadful, says you are only a child and won’t have me engage myself and he watches me from morning to night, I could only get away now because he had to go down to the machine-room.”

Before she had finished, I had locked the cabin door.

“Oh, I must go”, she cried, “I must really; I only came to give you my address in New York, here it is”, and she handed me the paper that I put at once in my pocket. And then I put both my arms under her clothes and my hands were on her warm hips, and I was speechless with delight; in a moment my right hand came round in front and as I touched her sex our lips clung together and her sex opened at once, and my finger began to caress her and we kissed and kissed again. Suddenly her lips got hot and while I was still wondering why, her sex got wet and her eyes began to flutter and turn up. A moment or two later she tried to get out of my embrace.

“Really, dear, I’m frightened: he might come and make a noise and I’d die; please let me go now: we’ll have lots of time in New York”—but I could not bear to let her go. “He’d never come here where there are two men”, I said, “never, he might find the wrong one”, and I drew her to me, but seeing she was only half reassured, I said while lifting her dress, “Let mine just touch yours, and I’ll let you go” and the next moment my sex was against hers and almost in spite of herself she yielded to the throbbing warmth of it; but when I pushed in, she drew away and down on it a little and I saw anxiety in her eyes that had grown very dear to me.

At once I stopped and put away my sex and let her clothes drop. “You’re such a sweet, Jess”, I said, “who could deny you anything; in New York then, but now one long kiss.”

She gave me her mouth at once and her lips were hot. I learned that morning that when a girl’s lips grow hot, her sex is hot first and she is ready to give herself and ripe for the embrace.

[Illustration]




Chapter V. THE GREAT NEW WORLD!

A stolen kiss and fleeting caress as we met on the deck at night were all I had of Jessie for the rest of the voyage. One evening landlights flickering in the distance drew crowds to the deck; the ship began to slow down. The cabin passengers went below as usual, but hundreds of immigrants sat up as I did and watched the stars slide down the sky till at length dawn came with silver lights and startling revelations.

I can still recall the thrills that overcame me when I realized the great waterways of that land-locked harbor and saw Long Island Sound stretching away on one hand like a sea and the magnificent Hudson River with its palisades on the other, while before me was the East River, nearly a mile in width. What an entrance to a new world! A magnificent and safe ocean port which is also the meeting place of great water paths into the continent.

No finer site could be imagined for a world capital; I was entranced with the spacious grandeur, the manifest destiny of this Queen City of the Waters.

The Old Battery was pointed out to me and Governor’s Island and the prison and where the bridge was being built to Brooklyn: suddenly Jessie passed on her father’s arm and shot me one radiant, lingering glance of love and promise.

I remember nothing more till we landed and the old banker came up to tell me he had had my little box taken from the “H’s” where it belonged and put with his luggage among the “S’s.”

“We are going”, he added, “to the Fifth Avenue Hotel away up town in Madison Square: we’ll be comfortable there”, and he smiled self-complacently. I smiled too, and thanked him; but I had no intention of going in his company. I went back to the ship and thanked Dr. Keogh with all my heart for his great goodness to me; he gave me his address in New York and incidentally I learned from him that if I kept the key of my trunk, no one could open it or take it away; it would be left in charge of the Customs till I called for it.

In a minute I was back in the long shed on the dock and had wandered nearly to the end when I perceived the stairs: “Is that the way into the town?” I asked and a man replied, “Sure.” One quick glance around to see that I was not noticed and in a moment I was down the stairs and out in the street: I raced straight ahead of me for two or three blocks and then asked and was told that Fifth Avenue was right in front. As I turned up Fifth Avenue, I began to breathe freely; “no more fathers for me.” The old Greybeard who had bothered me was consigned to oblivion without regret. Of course, I know now that he deserved better treatment. Perhaps indeed I should have done better had I accepted his kindly, generous help, but I’m trying to set down the plain, unvarnished truth, and here at once I must say that children’s affections are much slighter than most parents imagine. I never wasted a thought on my father; even my brother Vernon who had always been kind to me and fed my inordinate vanity, was not regretted: the new life called me: I was in a flutter of expectancy and hope.

Some way up Fifth Avenue I came into the great Square and saw the Fifth Avenue Hotel, but I only grinned and kept right on till at length I reached Central Park. Near it, I can’t remember exactly where, but I believe it was near where the Plaza Hotel stands today, there was a small wooden house with an outhouse at the other end of the lot. While I stared a woman came out with a bucket and went across to the outhouse. In a few moments she came back again and noticed me looking over the fence.

“Would you please give me a drink?” I asked. “Sure I will”, she replied with a strong Irish brogue. “Come right in” and I followed her into her kitchen.

“You’re Irish”, I said, smiling at her. “I am”, she replied, “how did ye guess?” “Because I was born in Ireland too”, I retorted. “You were not!” she cried emphatically, more for pleasure than to contradict. “I was born in Galway”, I went on and at once she became very friendly and poured me out some milk warm from the cow, and when she heard I had had no breakfast and saw I was hungry, she pressed me to eat and sat down with me and soon heard my whole story or enough of it to break out in wonder again and again.

In turn she told me how she had married Mike Mulligan, a longshoreman who earned good wages and was a good husband but took a drop too much now and again, as a man will when tempted by one of “thim saloons.” It was the saloons, I learned, that were the ruination of all the best Irishmen and “they were the best men anyway, an’—an’—” and the kindly, homely talk flowed on, charming me.

When the breakfast was over and the things cleared away I rose to go with many thanks but Mrs. Mulligan wouldn’t hear of it. “Ye’re a child”, she said, “an’ don’t know New York: it’s a terrible place and you must wait till Mike comes home an’—”

“But I must find some place to sleep”, I said, “I have money.”

“You’ll sleep here”, she broke in decisively, “and Mike will put ye on yer feet; sure he knows New York like his pocket, an’ yer as welcome as the flowers in May, an’—”

What could I do but stay and talk and listen to all sorts of stories about New York, and “toughs” that were “hard cases” and “gunmen” an’ “wimmin that were worse—bad scran to them.”

In due time Mrs. Mulligan and I had dinner together, and after dinner I got her permission to go into the Park for a walk, but “mind now and be home by six or I’ll send Mike after ye”, she added laughing.

I walked a little way in the Park and then started down-town again to the address Jessie had given me near the Brooklyn Bridge. It was a mean street, I thought, but I soon found Jessie’s sister’s house and went to a nearby restaurant and wrote a little note to my love, that she could show if need be, saying that I proposed to call on the 18th, or two days after the ship we had come in was due to return to Liverpool. After that duty which made it possible for me to hope all sorts of things on the 18th, 19th or 20th, I sauntered over to Fifth Avenue and made my way up town again. At any rate I was spending nothing in my present lodging.

When I returned that night I was presented to Mike: I found him a big, good-looking Irishman who thought his wife a wonder and all she did perfect. “Mary”, he said, winking at me, “is one of the best cooks in the wurrld and if it weren’t that she’s down on a man when he has a drop in him, she’d be the best gurrl on God’s earth. As it is, I married her and I’ve never been sorry: have I Mary?” “Ye’ve had no cause, Mike Mulligan.”

Mike had nothing particular to do next morning and so he promised he would go and get my little trunk from the Custom House. I gave him the key. He insisted as warmly as his wife that I should stay with them till I got work: I told them how eager I was to begin and Mike promised to speak to his chief and some friends and see what could be done.

Next morning I got up about five-thirty as soon as I heard Mike stirring, and went down Seventh Avenue with him till he got on the horse-car for down-town and left me. About seven-thirty to eight o’clock a stream of people began walking down-town to their offices. On several corners were bootblack shanties. One of them happened to have three customers in it and only one bootblack.

“Won’t you let me help you shine a pair or two?”, I asked. The bootblack looked at me: “I don’t mind”, he said and I seized the brushes and went to work. I had done the two just as he finished the first: he whispered to me “halves” as the next man came in and he showed me how to use the polishing rag or cloth. I took off my coat and waistcoat and went to work with a will; for the next hour and a half we both had our hands full. Then the rush began to slack off but not before I had taken just over a dollar and a half. Afterwards we had a talk and Allison, the bootblack, told me he’d be glad to give me work any morning on the same terms. I assured him I’d be there and do my best till I got other work. I had earned three shillings and had found out I could get good board for three dollars a week, so in a couple of hours I had earned my living. The last anxiety left me.

Mike had a day off, so he came home for dinner at noon and he had great news. They wanted men to work under water in the iron caissons of Brooklyn Bridge and they were giving from five to ten dollars a day.

“Five dollars”, cried Mrs. Mulligan, “it must be dangerous or unhealthy or somethin’—sure, you’d never put the child to work like that.”

Mike excused himself, but the danger, if danger there was, appealed to me almost as much as the big pay: my only fear was that they’d think me too small or too young. I had told Mrs. Mulligan I was sixteen, for I didn’t want to be treated as a child and now I showed her the eighty cents I had earned that morning boot-blacking, and she advised me to keep on at it and not go to work under the water; but the promised five dollars a day won me.

Next morning Mike took me to Brooklyn Bridge soon after five o’clock to see the Contractor: he wanted to engage Mike at once but shook his head over me. “Give me a trial”, I pleaded, “You’ll see, I’ll make good.” After a pause, “O.K.”, he said, “four shifts have gone down already underhanded; you may try.”

I’ve told about the work and its dangers at some length in my novel “The Bomb”, but here I may add some details just to show what labor has to suffer.

In the bare shed where we got ready the men told me no one could do the work for long without getting the “bends”; the “bends”, it appeared, were a sort of convulsive fit that twisted one’s body like a knot and often made you an invalid for life. They soon explained the whole procedure to me. We worked, it appeared, in a huge bell-shaped caisson of iron that went to the bottom of the river and was pumped full of compressed air to keep the water from entering it from below: the top of the caisson is a room called the “material chamber” into which the stuff dug out of the river passes up and is carted away. On the side of the caisson is another room, called the “airlock”, into which we were to go to be “compressed.” As the compressed air is admitted, the blood keeps absorbing the gasses of the air till the tension of the gasses in the blood becomes equal to that in the air: when this equilibrium has been reached, men can work in the caisson for hours without serious discomfort if sufficient pure air is constantly pumped in. It was the foul air that did the harm, it appeared; “if they’d pump in good air, it would be O.K.: but that would cost a little time and trouble and men’s lives are cheaper.” I saw that the men wanted to warn me, thinking I was too young, and accordingly I pretended to take little heed.

When we went into the “airlock” and they turned on one aircock after another of compressed air, the men put their hands to their ears and I soon imitated them for the pain was very acute. Indeed, the drums of the ears are often driven in and burst if the compressed air is brought in too quickly. I found that the best way of meeting the pressure was to keep swallowing air and forcing it up into the middle ear where it acted as an air-pad on the inner side of the drum and so lessened the pressure from the outside.

It took about half an hour or so to “compress” us and that half an hour gave me lots to think about. When the air was fully compressed, the door of the airlock opened at a touch and we all went down to work with pick and shovel on the gravelly bottom. My headache soon became acute. The six of us were working naked to the waist in a small iron chamber with a temperature of about 180 Fahrenheit: in five minutes the sweat was pouring from us and all the while we were standing in icy water that was only kept from rising by the terrific air pressure. No wonder the headaches were blinding. The men didn’t work for more than ten minutes at a time, but I plugged on steadily, resolved to prove myself and get constant employment; only one man, a Swede named Anderson, worked at all as hard. I was overjoyed to find that together we did more than the four others. The amount done each week was estimated, he told me, by an inspector. Anderson was known to the Contractor and received half a wage extra as head of our gang. He assured me I could stay as long as I liked, but he advised me to leave at the end of a month: it was too unhealthy: above all, I mustn’t drink and should spend all my spare time in the open. He was kindness itself to me as indeed were all the others. After two hours’ work down below we went up into the airlock room to get gradually “decompressed”, the pressure of air in our veins having to be brought down gradually to the usual air pressure. The men began to put on their clothes and passed round a bottle of Schnapps; but though I was soon as cold as a wet rat and felt depressed and weak to boot, I would not touch the liquor. In the shed above I took a cupful of hot cocoa with Anderson which stopped the shivering and I was soon able to face the afternoon’s ordeal.

I had no idea one could feel so badly when being “decompressed” in the airlock, but I took Anderson’s advice and got into the open as soon as I could, and by the time I had walked home in the evening and changed, I felt strong again, but the headache didn’t leave me entirely and the earache came back every now and then and to this day a slight deafness reminds me of that spell of work under water.

I went into Central Park for half an hour; the first pretty girl I met reminded me of Jessie: in one week I’d be free to see her and tell her I was making good and she’d keep her promise, I felt sure; the mere hope led me to fairyland. Meanwhile nothing could take away the proud consciousness that with my five dollars I had earned two weeks’ living in a day: a month’s work would make me safe for a year.

When I returned I told the Mulligans I must pay for my board, said “I’d feel better, if you’ll let me” and finally they consented, though Mrs. Mulligan thought three dollars a week too much. I was glad when it was settled and went to bed early to have a good sleep. For three or four days things went fairly well with me but on the fifth or sixth day we came on a spring of water or “gusher” and were wet to the waist before the air pressure could be increased to cope with it. As a consequence a dreadful pain shot through both my ears: I put my hands to them tight and sat still a little while. Fortunately the shift was almost over and Anderson came with me to the horse-car. “You’d better knock off”, he said, “I’ve known ’em go deaf from it.”

The pain had been appalling but it was slowly diminishing and I was resolved not to give in. “Could I get a day off?” I asked Anderson: he nodded, “of course: you’re the best in the shift, the best I’ve ever seen, a great little pony.”

Mrs. Mulligan saw at once something was wrong and made me try her household remedy—a roasted onion cut in two and clapped tight on each ear with a flannel bandage. It acted like magic: in ten minutes I was free of pain: then she poured in a little warm sweet oil and in an hour I was walking in the Park as usual. Still the fear of deafness was on me and I was very glad when Anderson told me he had complained to the Boss and we were to get an extra thousand feet of pure air. It would make a great difference, Anderson said, and he was right, but the improvement was not sufficient.[1]

Footnote 1:

 In Germany I have since learned the State requires that ten times as
 much pure air must be supplied as we had and in consequence the
 serious illnesses which with us amounted to eighty per cent in three
 months have been reduced to eight. Paternal Government, it appears,
 has certain good points.

One day just as the “decompression” of an hour and a half was ending, an Italian named Manfredi fell down and writhed about, knocking his face on the floor till the blood spurted from his nose and mouth. When we got him into the shed, his legs were twisted like plaited hair. The surgeon had him taken to the hospital. I made up my mind that a month would be enough for me.

At the end of the first week I got a note from Jessie saying that her father was going on board that afternoon and she could see me the next evening. I went and was introduced to Jessie’s sister who, to my surprise, was tall and large but without a trace of Jessie’s good looks.

“He’s younger than you, Jess”, she burst out laughing. A week earlier I’d have been hurt to the soul, but I had proved myself, so I said simply, “I’m earning five dollars a day, Mrs. Plummer, and money talks.” Her mouth fell open in amazement. “Five dollars”, she repeated, “I’m sorry, I—I—”

“There, Maggie”, Jessie broke in, “I told you, you had never seen anyone like him; you’ll be great friends yet. Now come and we’ll have a walk”, she added and out we went.

To be with her even in the street was delightful and I had a lot to say, but making love in a New York street on a summer evening is difficult and I was hungry to kiss and caress her freely. Jessie, however, had thought of a way: if her sister and husband had theatre tickets, they’d go out and we’d be alone in the apartment; it would cost two dollars, however, and she thought that a lot. I was delighted: I gave her the bills and arranged to be with her next night before eight o’clock. Did Jessie know what was going to happen? Even now I’m uncertain, though I think she guessed.

Next night I waited till the coast was clear and then hurried to the door. As soon as we were alone in the little parlor and I had kissed her, I said, “Jessie, I want you to undress. I’m sure your figure is lovely, but I want to know it.”

“Not at once, eh?” she pouted, “talk to me first. I want to know how you are?” and I drew her to the big armchair and sat down with her in my arms. “What am I to tell you?” I asked, while my hand went up her dress to her warm thighs and sex. She frowned but I kissed her lips and with a movement or two stretched her out on me so that I could use my finger easily. At once her lips grew hot and I went on kissing and caressing till her eyes closed and she gave herself to the pleasure. Suddenly she wound herself upon me and gave me a big kiss. “You don’t talk”, she said.

“I can’t”, I exclaimed, making up my mind. “Come”, and I lifted her to her feet and took her into the bedroom. “I’m crazy for you”, I said, “take off your clothes, please.” She resisted a little but when I began loosening her dress, she helped me and took it off. Her knickers, I noticed, were new. They soon fell off and she stood in her chemise and black stockings. “That’s enough, isn’t it?” she said, “Mr. Curious”, and she drew the chemise tight about her. “No”, I cried, “beauty must unveil, please!” The next moment the chemise slipping down caught for a moment on her hips and then slid circling round her feet.

Her nakedness stopped my heart; desire blinded me: my arms went round her, straining her soft form to me: in a moment I had lifted her on to the bed, pulling the bed clothes back at the same time. The foolish phrase of being in bed together deluded me: I had no idea that she was more in my power just lying on the edge of the bed; in a moment I had torn off my clothes and boots and got in beside her. Our warm bodies lay together: a thousand hot pulses beating in us: soon I separated her legs and lying on her tried to put my sex into hers, but she drew away almost at once. “O—O, it hurts” she murmured and each time I tried to push my sex in, her “O’s” of pain stopped me.

My wild excitement made me shiver; I could have struck her for drawing away; but soon I noticed that she let my sex touch her clitoris with pleasure and I began to use my cock as a finger, caressing her with it. In a moment or two I began to move it more quickly and as my excitement grew to the height, I again tried to slip it into her pussy, and now as her love-dew came, I got my sex in a little way which gave me inexpressible pleasure; but when I pushed to go further, she drew away again with a sharp cry of pain. At the same moment my orgasm came on for the first time and seed like milk spurted from my sex. The pleasure thrill was almost unbearably keen: I could have screamed with the pang of it; but Jessie cried out, “Oh, you’re wetting me” and drew away with a frightened “Look, look!” And there, sure enough, on her round white thighs were patches of crimson blood. “Oh! I’m bleeding”, she cried, “what have you done?”

“Nothing”, I answered, a little sulky, I’m afraid, at having my indescribable pleasure cut short, “nothing” and in a moment I had got out of bed, and taking my handkerchief soon wiped away the telltale traces.

But when I wanted to begin again, Jessie wouldn’t hear of it at first:

“No, no”, she said. “You’ve hurt me really, Jim, (my Christian name, I had told her, was James) and I’m scared, please be good.” I could only do her will, till a new thought struck me. At any rate I could see her now and study her beauties one by one, and so still lying by her I began kissing her left breast and soon the nipple grew a little stiff in my mouth. Why, I didn’t know and Jessie said she didn’t, but she liked it when I said her breasts were lovely and indeed they were, small and firm while the nipples pointed straight out. Suddenly the thought came, surprising me: it would have been much prettier if the circle surrounding the nipples had been rose-red instead of merely umber brown. I was thrilled by the bare idea. But her flanks and belly were lovely; the navel like a curled sea-shell, I thought, and the triangle of silky brown hairs on the Mount of Venus seemed to me enchanting, but Jessie kept covering her beauty-place. “It’s ugly”, she said, “please, boy”, but I went on caressing it and soon I was trying to slip my sex in again; though Jessie’s “O’s” of pain began at once and she begged me to stop.

“We must get up and dress”, she said, “they’ll soon be back”, so I had to content myself with just lying in her arms with my sex touching hers. Soon she began to move against my sex, and to kiss me, and then she bit my lips just as my sex slipped into hers again; she left it in for a long moment and then as her lips grew hot: “it’s so big”, she said, “but you’re a dear.” The moment after she cried: “We must get up, boy! if they caught us, I’d die of shame.” When I tried to divert her attention by kissing her breasts, she pouted, “That hurts too. Please, boy, stop and don’t look”, she added as she tried to rise, covering her sex the while with her hand, and pulling a frowning face. Though I told her she was mistaken and her sex was lovely, she persisted in hiding it, and in truth her breasts and thighs excited me more, perhaps because they were in themselves more beautiful.

I put my hand on her hips; she smiled, “Please, boy” and as I moved away to give her room, she got up and stood by the bed, a perfect little figure in rosy, warm outline. I was entranced, but the cursed critical faculty was awake. As she turned, I saw she was too broad for her height; her legs were too short, her hips too stout. It all chilled me a little. Should I ever find perfection?

Ten minutes later she had arranged the bed and we were seated in the sitting-room but to my wonder Jessie didn’t want to talk over our experience. “What gave you most pleasure?” I asked. “All of it”, she said, “you naughty dear; but don’t let’s talk of it.”

I told her I was going to work for a month, but I couldn’t talk to her: my hand was soon up her clothes again playing with her sex and caressing it, and we had to move apart hurriedly when we heard her sister at the door.

I didn’t get another evening alone with Jessie for some time. I asked for it often enough, but Jessie made excuses and her sister was very cold to me. I soon found out it was by her advice that Jessie guarded herself. Jessie confessed that her sister accused her of letting me “act like a husband: she must have seen a stain on my chemise”, Jessie added, “when you made me bleed, you naughty boy; any way something gave her the idea and now you must be good.”

That was the conclusion of the whole matter. If I had known as much then as I knew ten years later, neither the pain nor her sister’s warnings could have dissuaded Jessie from giving herself to me. Even at the time I felt that a little more knowledge would have made me the arbiter.

The desire to have Jessie completely to myself again, was one reason why I gave up the job at the Bridge as soon as the month was up. I had over a hundred and fifty dollars clear in my pocket and I had noticed that though the pains in my ears soon ceased, I had become a little hard of hearing. The first morning I wanted to lie in bed and have one great lazy day, but I awoke at five as usual, and it suddenly occurred to me that I should go down and see Allison, the bootblack, again. I found him busier than ever and I had soon stripped off and set to work. About ten o’clock we had nothing to do, so I told him of my work under water; he boasted that his “stand” brought him in about four dollars a day: there wasn’t much to do in the afternoons, but from six to seven again he usually earned something more.

I was welcome to come and work with him any morning on halves and I thought it well to accept his offer.

That very afternoon I took Jessie for a walk in the Park, but when we had found a seat in the shade she confessed that her sister thought we ought to be engaged, and as soon as I got steady work we could be married: “A woman wants a home of her own”, she said, “and oh, Boy! I’d make it so pretty! and we’d go out to the theatres and have a gay old time.”

I was horrified; married at my age, no, Sir! It seemed absurd to me and with Jessie. I saw she was pretty and bright, but she knew nothing, never had read anything: I couldn’t marry her. The idea made me snort. But she was dead in earnest, so I agreed to all she said, only insisting that first I must got regular work; I’d buy the engagement ring too: but first we must have another great evening. Jessie didn’t know whether her sister would go out, but she’d see. Meanwhile we kissed and kissed and her lips grew hot and my hand got busy, and then we walked again, on and on, and finally went into the great Museum.

Here I got one of the shocks of my life. Suddenly Jessie stopped before a picture representing, I think, Paris choosing the Goddess of Beauty, Paris being an ideal figure of youthful manhood.

“Oh, isn’t he splendid!” cried Jessie, “just like you”, she added with feminine wit, pouting out her lips as if to kiss me. If she hadn’t made the personal application, I might not have realized the absurdity of the comparison. But Paris had long, slim legs while mine were short and stout, and his face was oval and his nose straight, while my nose jutted out with broad, scenting nostrils.

The conviction came to me in a flash: I was ugly with irregular features, sharp eyes and short squat figure: the certainty overpowered me: I had learned before that I was too small to be a great athlete, now I saw that I was ugly to boot: my heart sank: I can not describe my disappointment and disgust.

Jessie asked; what was the matter and at length I told her. She wouldn’t have it: “You’ve a lovely white skin”, she cried, “and you’re quick and strong: no one would call you ugly!—the idea!” But the knowledge was in me indisputable, never to leave me again for long. It even led me to some erroneous inferences then and there: for example, it seemed clear to me that if I had been tall and handsome like Paris, Jessie would have given herself to me in spite of her sister; but further knowledge of women makes me inclined to doubt this: they have a luscious eye for good looks in the male, naturally; but other qualities, such as strength and dominant self-confidence have an even greater attraction for the majority, especially for those who are richly endowed sexually and I am inclined to think that it was her sister’s warnings and her own matter-of-fact hesitation before the irrevocable that induced Jessie to withhold her sex from complete abandonment. But the pleasure I had experienced with her, made me keener than ever, and more enterprising. The conviction of my ugliness, too, made me resolve to develop my mind and all other faculties as much as I could.

Finally, I saw Jessie home and had a great hug and long kiss and was told she had had a bully afternoon and we made another appointment.

I worked at boot-blacking every morning and soon got some regular customers, notably a young, well-dressed man who seemed to like me. Either Allison, or he himself, told me his name was Kendrick and he came from Chicago. One morning he was very silent and absorbed. At length I said, “Finished” and “Finished”, he repeated after me: “I was thinking of something else”, he explained. “Intent”, I said smiling. “A business deal”, he explained, “but why do you say intent?” “The Latin phrase came into my head”, I replied without thinking, “‘Intentique ore tenebant’, Vergil says.”

“Good God!” he cried, “fancy a bootblack quoting Vergil. You’re a strange lad, what age are you?” “Sixteen”, I replied. “You don’t look it”, he said, “but now I must hurry; one of these days we’ll have a talk.” I smiled, “Thank you, Sir”, and away he hastened.

The very next day he was in still greater haste: “I must get down-town”, he said, “I’m late already; just give me a rub or two”, he cried impatiently, “I must catch that train” and he fumbled with some bills in his hand. “It’s all right”, I said, and smiling added; “Hurry! I’ll be here tomorrow.” He smiled and went off without paying, taking me at my word.

The next day I strolled down-town early; for Allison had found that a stand and lean-to were to be sold on the corner of 13th Street and Seventh Avenue, and as he was known, he wanted me to go and have a look at the business done from seven to nine. The Dago who wished to sell out and go back to Dalmatia, wanted three hundred dollars for the outfit, asserting that the business brought in four dollars a day. He had not exaggerated unduly, I found, and Allison was hot that we should buy it together and go fifty-fifty. “You’ll make five or six dollars a day at it”, he said, “if the Dago makes four. It’s one of the good pitches and with three dollars a day coming in, you’ll soon have a stand of your own.”

While we were discussing it, Kendrick came up and took his accustomed seat. “What were you so hot about?” he asked, and as Allison smiled, I told him. “Three dollars a day seems good”, he said, “but boot-blacking’s not your game. How would you like to come to Chicago and have a place as night-clerk in my hotel? I’ve got one with my uncle”, he added, “and I think you’d make good.”

“I’d do my best”, I replied, the very thought of Chicago and the Great West drawing me, “Will you let me think it over?”

“Sure, sure!”, he replied, “I don’t go back till Friday; that gives you three days to decide.”

Allison stuck to his opinion, that a good stand would make more money; but when I talked it over with the Mulligans, they were both in favor of the hotel. I saw Jessie that same evening and told her of the “stand” and begged for another evening, but she stuck to it that her sister was suspicious and cross with me and would not leave us alone again. Accordingly, I said nothing to her of Chicago.

I had already noticed that sexual pleasure is in its nature profoundly selfish. So long as Jessie yielded to me and gave me delight, I was attracted by her; but as soon as she denied me, I became annoyed and dreamed of more pliant beauties. I was rather pleased to leave her without even a word; “that’ll teach her!” my wounded vanity whispered, “she deserves to suffer a little for disappointing me.”

But parting with the Mulligans was really painful: Mrs. Mulligan was a dear, kind woman who would have mothered the whole race if she could; one of those sweet Irish women whose unselfish deeds and thoughts are the flowers of our sordid human life. Her husband too was not unworthy of her; very simple and straight and hard-working, without a mean thought in him, a natural prey to good fellowship and songs and poteen.

[Illustration]

On Friday afternoon I left New York for Chicago with Mr. Kendrick. The country seemed to me very bare, harsh and unfinished, but the great distances enthralled me; it was indeed a land to be proud of, every broad acre of it spoke of the future and suggested hope.

My first round, so to speak, with American life was over. What I had learned in it remains with me still. No people is so kind to children and no life so easy for the handworkers; the hewers of wood and drawers of water are better off in the United States than anywhere else on earth. To this one class and it is by far the most numerous class, the American democracy more than fulfills its promises. It levels up the lowest in a most surprising way. I believed then with all my heart what so many believe today, that all deductions made, it was on the whole, the best civilization yet known among men.

In time, deeper knowledge made me modify this opinion more and more radically. Five years later I was to see Walt Whitman, the noblest of all Americans, living in utter poverty at Camden, dependent upon English admirers for a change of clothes or a sufficiency of food, and Poe had suffered in the same way.

Bit by bit the conviction was forced in upon me that if the American democracy does much to level up the lowest class, it is still more successful in leveling down the highest and best. No land on earth is so friendly to the poor illiterate toilers, no land so contemptuous-cold to the thinkers and artists, the guides of humanity. What help is there here for men of letters and artists, for the seers and prophets? Such guides are not wanted by the idle rich and are ignored by the masses, and after all the welfare of the head is more important even than that of the body and feet.

What will become of those who stone the prophet? and persecute the teachers? The doom is written in flaming letters on every page of history.




Chapter VI. LIFE IN CHICAGO!

The Fremont House, Kendrick’s hotel was near the Michigan Street Depot. In those days when Chicago had barely 300,000 inhabitants, it was an hotel of the second class. Mr. Kendrick had told me that his uncle, a Mr. Cotton really owned the House, but left him the chief share in the management, adding “What uncle says, goes always.” In the course of time, I understood the nephew’s loyalty; for Mr. Cotton was really kindly and an able man of business. My duties as night-clerk were simple; from eight at night till six in the morning, I was master in the office and had to apportion bedrooms to the incoming guests and give bills and collect the monies due from the outgoing public. I set myself at once to learn the good and bad points of the hundred odd bedrooms in the house and the arrival and departure times of all the night trains. When guests came in, I met them at the entrance, found out what they wanted and told this or that porter or bellboy to take them to their rooms. However curt or irritable they were, I always tried to smooth them down and soon found I was succeeding. In a week Mr. Kendrick told me that he had heard golden opinions of me from a dozen visitors. “You have a dandy night-clerk,” he was told; “Spares no pains … pleasant manners … knows everything ... “_some_” clerk; yes, sir!”

My experience in Chicago assured me that if one does his very best, he comes to success in business in a comparatively short time; so few do all they can. Going to bed at six, I was up every day at 1 o’clock for dinner as it was called and after dinner I got into the habit of going into the billiard-room at one end of which was a large bar. By five o’clock or so, the billiard-room was crowded and there was no one to superintend things, so I spoke to Mr. Kendrick about it and took the job on my own shoulders. I had little to do but induce newcomers to await their turn patiently and to mollify old customers who expected to find tables waiting for them. The result of a little courtesy and smiling promises was so marked that at the end of the very first month the bookkeeper, a man named Curtis, told me with a grin that I was to get sixty dollars a month and not forty dollars as I had supposed. Needless to say the extra pay simply quickened my desire to make myself useful. But now I found the way up barred by two superiors, the bookkeeper was one and the steward, a dry taciturn Westerner named Payne was the other. Payne bought everything and had control of the dining-room and waiters while Curtis ruled the office and the bell-boys. I was really under Curtis; but my control of the billiard-room gave me a sort of independent position.

I soon made friends with Curtis; got into the habit of dining with him and when he found that my handwriting was very good, he gave me the day-book to keep and in a couple of months had taught me bookkeeping while entrusting me with a good deal of it. He was not lazy; but most men of forty like to have a capable assistant. By Christmas that year I was keeping all the books except the ledger and I knew, as I thought, the whole business of the hotel.

The dining-room, it seemed to me was very badly managed; but as luck would have it, I was first to get control of the office. As soon as Curtis found out that I could safely be trusted to do his work, he began going out at dinner time and often stayed away the whole day. About New Year he was away for five days and confided in me when he returned, that he had been on a “bust.” He wasn’t happy with his wife, it appeared, and he used to drink to drown her temper. In February he was away for ten days; but as he had given me the key of the safe I kept everything going. One day Kendrick found me in the office working and wanted to know about Curtis: “how long had he been away!” “A day or two,” I replied. Kendrick looked at me and asked for the ledger: “it’s written right up!” he exclaimed, “did you do it?” I had to say I did; but at once I sent a bellboy for Curtis. The boy didn’t find him at his house and next day I was brought up before Mr. Cotton. I couldn’t deny that I had kept the books and Cotton soon saw that I was shielding Curtis out of loyalty. When Curtis came in next day, he gave the whole show away; he was half-drunk still and rude to boot. He had been unwell, he said; but his work was in order. He was ‘fired’ there and then by Mr. Cotton and that evening Kendrick asked me to keep things going properly till he could persuade his uncle that I was trustworthy and older than I looked.

In a couple of days I saw Mr. Cotton and Mr. Kendrick together. “Can you keep the books and be night-clerk and take care of the billiard-room?” Mr. Cotton asked me sharply. “I think so” I replied, “I’ll do my best.” “Hm!” he grunted: “what pay do you think you ought to have?” “I’ll leave that to you sir,” I said, “I shall be satisfied whatever you give me.” “The devil you will,” he said grumpily, “suppose I said, keep on at your present rate?” I smiled; “O.K. Sir.”

“Why do you smile?” he asked. “Because, sir, pay like water tends to find its level!” “What the devil d’ye mean by its level?” “The level,” I went on, “is surely the market price; sooner or later it’ll rise towards that and I can wait.” His keen grey eyes suddenly bored into me. “I begin to think you’re much older, than you look, as my nephew here tells me,” he said. “Put yourself down at a hundred a month for the present and in a little while we’ll perhaps find the ‘level,’” and he smiled. I thanked him and went out to my work.

It seemed as if incidents were destined to crowd my life.... A day or so after this the taciturn steward, Payne, came and asked me if I’d go out with him to dinner and some theatre or other? I had not had a day off in five or six months so I said “Yes.” He gave me a great dinner at a famous French restaurant (I forget the name now) and wanted me to drink champagne. But I had already made up my mind not to touch any intoxicating liquor till I was twenty one and so I told him simply that I had taken the pledge. He beat about the bush a great deal, but at length said that as I was bookkeeper in place of Curtis, he hoped we should get along as he and Curtis had done. I asked him just what he meant but he wouldn’t speak plainly which excited my suspicions. A day or two afterwards I got into talk with a butcher in another quarter of the town and asked him what he would supply seventy pounds of beef and fifty pounds of mutton for, daily for a hotel; he gave me a price so much below the price Payne was paying that my suspicions were confirmed. I was tremendously excited. In my turn I invited Payne to dinner and led up to the subject. At once he said “of course there’s a ‘rake-off’ and if you’ll hold in with me, I’ll give you a third as I gave Curtis. The ‘rake-off’ don’t hurt anyone,” he went on, “for I buy below market-price.” Of course I was all ears and eager interest when he admitted that the ‘rake-off’ was on everything he bought and amounted to about 20 per cent. of the cost. By this he changed his wages from two hundred dollars a month into something like two hundred dollars a week.

As soon as I had all the facts clear, I asked the nephew to dine with me and laid the situation before him. I had only one loyalty—to my employers and the good of the ship. To my astonishment he seemed displeased at first; “more trouble,” he began, “why can’t you stick to your own job and leave the others alone? What’s in a commission after all?” When he came to understand what the commission amounted to and that he himself could do the buying in half an hour a day, he altered his tone. “What will my uncle say now?” he cried and went off to tell the owner his story. There was a tremendous row two days later for Mr. Cotton was a business man and went to the butcher we dealt with and ascertained for himself how important the ‘rake-off’ really was. When I was called into the uncle’s room Payne tried to hit me; but he found it was easier to receive than to give punches and that “the damned kid” was not a bit afraid of him.

Curiously enough, I soon noticed that the “rake-off” had had the secondary result of giving us an inferior quality of meat; whenever the butcher was left with a roast he could not sell, he used to send it to us confident that Payne wouldn’t quarrel about it. The negro cook declared that the meat now was far better; all that could be desired in fact, and our customers too were not slow to show their appreciation.

One other change the discharge of Payne brought about; it made me master of the dining-room. I soon picked a smart waiter and put him as chief over the rest and together we soon improved the waiting and discipline among the waiters out of all comparison. For over a year I worked eighteen hours out of the twenty four and after the first six months or so, I got one hundred and fifty dollars a month and saved practically all of it.

Some experience in this long, icy-cold winter in Chicago enlarged my knowledge of American life and particularly of life on the lowest level. I had been about three months in the hotel when I went out one evening for a sharp walk, as I usually did, about seven o’clock. It was bitterly cold, a western gale raked the streets with icy teeth, the thermometer was about ten below zero. I had never imagined anything like the cold. Suddenly I was accosted by a stranger, a small man with red moustache and stubbly unshaven beard:

“Say, mate, can you help a man to a meal?” The fellow was evidently a tramp: his clothes shabby and dirty: his manner servile with a backing of truculence. I was kindly and not critical. Without a thought, I took my roll of bills out of my pocket. I meant to take off a dollar bill. As the money came to view the tramp with a pounce grabbed at it, but caught my hand as well. Instinctively I held on to my roll like grim Death, but while I was still under the shock of surprise the hobo hit me viciously in the face and plucked at the bills again. I hung on all the tighter, and angry now, struck the man in the face with my left fist. The next moment we had clenched and fallen. As luck and youth would have it, I fell on top. At once I put out all my strength, struck the fellow hard in the face and at the same time tore my bills away. The next moment I was on my feet with my roll deep in my pocket and both fists ready for the next assault. To my astonishment the hobo picked himself up and said confidingly:

“I’m hungry, weak, or you wouldn’t have downed me so easy.” And then he went on with what to me seemed incredible impudence:

“You should peel me off a dollar at least for hittin’ me like that,” and he stroked his jaw as if to ease the pain.

“I’ve a good mind to give you in charge,” said I, suddenly realizing that I had the law on my side.

“If you don’t cash up,” barked the hobo, “I’ll call the cops and say you’ve grabbed my wad.”

“Call away,” I cried: “we’ll see who’ll be believed.”

But the hobo knew a better trick. In a familiar wheedling voice he began again:

“Come, young fellow, you’ll never miss one dollar and I’ll put you wise to a good many things here in Chicago. You had no business to pull out a wad like that, in a lonely place to tempt a hungry man....”

“I was going to help you,” I said hesitatingly. “I know,” replied my weird acquaintance, “but I prefer to help myself,” and he grinned. “Take me to a hash-house: I’m hungry and I’ll put you wise to many things; you’re a tenderfoot and show it.”

Clearly the hobo was the master of the situation and somehow or other his whole attitude stirred my curiosity.

“Where are we to go!” I asked. “I don’t know any restaurant near here except the Fremont House.”

“Hell,” cried the hobo, “only millionaires and fools go to hotels. I follow my nose for grub,” and he turned on his heel and led the way without another word down a side street and into a German dive set out with bare wooden tables and sanded floor.

Here he ordered hash and I, hot coffee and when I came to pay I was agreeably surprised to find that the bill was only forty cents and we could talk in our corner undisturbed as long as we liked.

In ten minutes’ chat the hobo had upset all my preconceived ideas and given me a host of new and interesting thoughts. He was a man of some reading if not of education and the violence of his language attracted me almost as much as the novelty of his point of view.

All rich men were thieves, all workmen, sheep and fools, was his creed. The workmen did the work, created the wealth, and the employers robbed them of nine-tenths of the product of their labor and so got rich. It all seemed simple. The tramp never meant to work; he lived by begging and went wherever he wanted to go.

“But how do you get about?” I cried.

“Here in the middle west,” he replied, “I steal rides in freight cars and box-cars and on top of coal wagons, but in the real west and south I get inside the cars and ride, and when the conductor turns me off I wait for the next train. Life is full of happenings—some of ’em painful,” he added, thoughtfully rubbing his jaw again.

He appeared to be a tough little man whose one object in life it was to avoid work and in spite of himself, he worked hard in order to do nothing.

The experience had a warning, quickening effect on me. I resolved to save all I could.

When I stood up to go the hobo grinned amicably:

“I guess I’ve earned that dollar?” I could not help laughing. “I guess you have,” I replied, but took care to turn aside as I stripped off the bill.

“So long,” said the tramp as we parted at the door and that was all the thanks I ever got.

Another experience of this time told a sadder story. One evening a girl spoke to me; she was fairly well-dressed and as we came under a gas-lamp I saw she was good-looking with a tinge of nervous anxiety in her face.

“I don’t buy love,” I warned her: “but how much do you generally get?” “From one dollar to five,” she replied; “but tonight I want as much as I can get.”

“I’ll give you five,” I replied; “but you must tell me all I want to know.”

“All right,” she said eagerly, “I’ll tell all I know: it’s not much,” she added bitterly; “I’m not twenty yet; but you’d have taken me for more, now wouldn’t you?” “No,” I replied, “you look about eighteen: in a few minutes we were climbing the stairs of a tenement house. The girl’s room was poorly furnished and narrow, a hall bedroom just the width of the corridor, perhaps six feet by eight. As soon as she had taken off her thick cloak and hat, she hastened out of the room saying she’d be back in a minute. In the silence, I thought I heard her running up the stairs; a baby somewhere near cried; and then silence again, till she opened the door, drew my head to her and kissed me:

“I like you,” she said, “though you’re funny.”

“Why funny?” I asked.

“It’s a scream,” she said, “to give five dollars to a girl and never touch her: but I’m glad for I was tired tonight and anxious.”

“Why anxious?” I queried, “and why did you go out if you were tired?” “Got to,” she replied through tightly closed lips. “You don’t mind if I leave you again for a moment?” she added and before I could answer she was out of the room again. When she returned in five minutes I had grown impatient and put on my overcoat and hat.

“Goin?” she asked in surprise:

“Yes”, I replied, “I don’t like this empty cage while you go off to someone else.”

“Someone else” she repeated and then as if desperate: “it’s my baby if you must know: a friend takes care of her when I’m out or working.”

“Oh, you poor thing,” I cried, “fancy you with a baby at this life!”

“I wanted a baby”, she cried defiantly. “I wouldn’t be without her for anything! I always wanted a baby: there’s lots of girls like that.”

“Really?” I cried astounded.

“Do you know her father?” I went on.

“Of course I do,” she retorted. “He’s working in the stock yards; but he’s tough and won’t keep sober.”

“I suppose you’d marry him if he would go straight?” I asked.

“Any girl would marry a decent feller!” she replied.

“You’re pretty,” I said.

“D’ye think so?” she asked eagerly pushing her hair back from the sides of her head. “I used to be but now—this life—” and she shrugged her shoulders expressively.

“You don’t like it?” I asked.

“No,” she cried; “though when you get a nice feller, it’s not so bad; but they’re scarce,” she went on bitterly, “and generally when they’re nice, they’ve no bucks. The nice fellers are all poor or old,” she added reflectively.

I had had the best part of her wisdom, so I stripped off a five dollar bill and gave it to her. “Thanks,” she said, “you’re a dear and if you want to come an’ see me any time, just come an’ I’ll try to give you a good time.”—Away I went. I had had my first talk with a prostitute and in her room! The idea that a girl could want a baby was altogether new to me: her temptations very different from a boy’s, very!

For the greater part of my first year in Chicago I had no taste of love: I was often tempted by this chambermaid or that; but I knew I should lose prestige if I yielded and I simply put it all out of my head resolvedly as I had abjured drink. But towards the beginning of the summer temptation came to me in a new guise. A Spanish family, named Vidal, stopped at the Fremont House.

Señor Vidal was like a French officer, middle height, trim figure, very dark with grey moustache waving up at the ends. His wife, motherly but stout, with large dark eyes and small features; a cousin, a man of about thirty, rather tall with a small black moustache, like a tooth brush, I thought, and sharp imperious ways. At first I did not notice the girl who was talking to her Indian maid. I understood at once that the Vidals were rich and gave them the best rooms: “all communicating—except yours,” I added, turning to the young man: “it is on the other side of the corridor, but large and quiet.” A shrug and contemptuous nod was all I got for my pains from Señor Arriga. As I handed the keys to the bellboy, the girl threw back her black mantilla.

“Any letters for us?” she asked quietly. For a minute I stood dumbfounded, enthralled, then “I’ll see,” I muttered and went to the rack, but only to give myself a countenance—I knew there were none.

“None, I’m sorry to say,” I smiled watching the girl as she moved away.

“What’s the matter with me?” I said to myself angrily. “She’s nothing wonderful, this Miss Vidal; pretty, yes, and dark with fine dark eyes, but nothing extraordinary.” But it would not do; I was shaken in a new way and would not admit it even to myself. In fact the shock was so great that my head took sides against heart and temperament at once as if alarmed. “All Spaniards are dank,” I said to myself, trying to depreciate the girl and so regain self-control; “besides her nose is beaked a little.” But there was no conviction in my criticism. As soon as I recalled the proud grace of carriage and the magic of her glance, the fever-fit shook me again: for the first time my heart had been touched.

Next day I found out that the Vidals had come from Spain and were on their way to their hacienda near Chihuahua in Northern Mexico. They meant to rest in Chicago for three or four days because Señora Vidal had heart trouble and couldn’t stand much fatigue. I discovered besides that Señor Arriga was either courting his cousin or betrothed to her and at once I sought to make myself agreeable to the man. Señor Arriga was a fine billiard player and I took the nearest way to his heart by reserving for him the best table, getting him a fair opponent and complimenting him upon his skill. The next day Arriga opened his heart to me: “What is there to do in this dull hole? Did I know of any amusement? Any pretty women?”

I could do nothing but pretend to sympathize and draw him out and this I easily accomplished, for Señor Arriga loved to boast of his name and position in Mexico and his conquests. “Ah, you should have seen her as I led her in the baile (dance)—an angel!” and he kissed his fingers gallantly.

“As pretty as your cousin?” I ventured. Señor Arriga flashed a sharp suspicious glance at me, but apparently reassured by my frankness, went on:

“In Mexico we never talk of members of our family,” he warned: “The Senorita is pretty, of course, but very young; she has not the charm of experience, the caress of—I know so little American, I find it difficult to explain.”

But I was satisfied. “He doesn’t love her”, I said to myself; “loves no one except himself.”

In a thousand little ways I took occasion to commend myself to the Vidals. Every afternoon they drove out and I took care they should have the best buggy and the best driver and was at pains to find out new and pretty drives, though goodness knows the choice was limited. The beauty of the girl grew on me in an extraordinary way: yet it was the pride and reserve in her face that fascinated me more even than her great dark eyes or fine features or splendid coloring. Her figure and walk were wonderful; I thought: I never dared to seek epithets for her eyes, or mouth or neck. Her first appearance in evening dress was a revelation to me: she was my idol, enskied and sacred.

It is to be presumed that the girl saw how it was with me and was gratified. She made no sign, betrayed herself in no way, but her mother noticed that she was always eager to go downstairs to the lounge and missed no opportunity of making some inquiry at the desk.

“I want to practice my English,” the girl said once and the mother smiled: “Los ojos, you mean your eyes, my dear,” and added to herself: “But why not? Youth—” and sighed for her own youth now foregone, and the petals already fallen.

One little talk I got with my goddess: she came to the office to ask about reserving a Pullman drawing-room for El Paso. I undertook at once to see to everything, and when the dainty little lady added in her funny accent: “We have so many baggage, twenty-six bits”; I said as earnestly as if my life depended on it:

“Please trust me. I shall see to everything. I only wish,” I added, “I could do more for you.”

“That’s kind,” said the coquette: “very kind,” looking full at me. Emboldened by despair at her approaching departure I added: “I’m so sorry you’re going. I shall never forget you, never.”

Taken aback by my directness, the girl laughed saucily, “_Never_ means a week, I suppose.”

“You will see,” I went on hurriedly as if driven, as indeed I was. “If I thought I should not see you again and soon, I should not wish to live.”

“A declaration”, she laughed merrily, still looking me brightly in the face.

“Not of independence,” I cried, “but of—” as I hesitated between “affection” and “love” the girl put her finger to her lips.

“Hush, hush,” she said gravely, “you are too young to take vows and I must not listen”, but seeing my face fall, she added: “You have been very kind. I shall remember my stay in Chicago with pleasure,” and she stretched out her hand. I took it and held it treasuring every touch.

Her look and the warmth of her fingers I garnered up in my heart as purest treasure.

As soon as she had gone and the radiance with her, I cudgeled my brains to find some pretext for another talk. “She goes tomorrow,” hammered in my brain and my heartache choked me, almost prevented my thinking. Suddenly the idea of flowers came to me. I’d buy a lot. No; everyone would notice them and talk. A few would be better. How many? I thought and thought.

When they came into lounge next day ready to start I was watching my opportunity, but the girl gave me a better one than I could have picked. She waited till her father and Arriga had left the hall and then came over to the desk.

“You have ze checks?” she asked.

“Everything will be given you at the train,” I said, “but I have these for you. Please accept them!” and I handed her three splendid red rosebuds, prettily tied up with maiden hair fern.

“How kind!” she exclaimed, coloring, “and how pretty,” she added, looking at the roses. “Just three?”

“One for your hair,” I said with love’s cunning, “one for your eyes and one for your heart—will you remember?” I added in a low voice intensely.

She nodded and then looked up sparkling: “As long—as ze flowers last,” she laughed, and was back with her mother.

I saw them into the omnibus and got kind words from all the party, even from Señor Arriga, but cherished most her look and word as she went out of the door.

Holding it open for her, I murmured as she passed, for the others were within hearing: “I shall come soon.”

The girl stopped, at once, pretending to look at the tag on a trunk the porter was carrying. “El Paso is far away,” she sighed, “and the hacienda ten leagues further on. When shall we arrive—when?” she added glancing up at me.

“When?” was the significant word to me for many a month; her eyes had filled it with meaning.

I’ve told of this meeting with Miss Vidal at length, because it marked an epoch in my life; it was the first time that love had cast her glamor over me making beauty superlative, intoxicating. The passion rendered it easier for me to resist ordinary temptation, for it taught me there was a whole gorgeous world in Love’s Kingdom that I had never imagined, much less explored. I had scarcely a lewd thought of Gloria. It was not till I saw her bared shoulders in evening dress that I stripped her in imagination and went almost wild in uncontrollable desire. Would she ever kiss me? What was she like undressed? My imagination was still untutored: I could picture her breasts better than her sex and I made up my mind to examine the next girl I was lucky enough to see naked, much more precisely.

At the back of my mind was the fixed resolve to get to Chihuahua somehow or other in the near future and meet my charmer again and that resolve in due course shaped my life anew.

In early June, that year, three strangers came to the Hotel, all cattlemen I was told, but of a new sort: Reece and Dell and Ford, the “Boss”, as he was called. Reece was a tall dark Englishman or rather Welshman, always dressed in brown leather riding boots, Bedford Cord breeches and dark tweed cutaway coat: he looked a prosperous gentleman farmer; Dell was almost a copy of him in clothes, about middle height and sturdier—in fact an ordinary Englishman. The Boss was fully six feet, taller even than Reece with a hatchet-thin, bronzed face and eagle profile—evidently a Western cattle-man from head to foot. The headwaiter told me about them and as soon as I saw them I had them transferred to a shady-cool table and saw that they were well waited on.

A day or two afterwards we had made friends and a little later, Reece got me measured for two pairs of cord-breeches and had promised to teach me how to ride. They were cowpunchers, he said, with his strong English accent and were going down to the Rio Grande to buy cattle and drive ’em back to market here or in Kansas City. Cattle, it appeared, could be bought in South Texas for a dollar a head or less and fetched from fifteen to twenty dollars each in Chicago.

“Of course we don’t always get through unscathed” Reece remarked, “The Plain Indians—Cherokees, Blackfeet and Sioux—take care of that; but one herd in two gets through and that pays big.”

I found they had brought up a thousand head of cattle from their ranch near Eureka, Kansas and a couple of hundred head of horses.

To cut a long story short, Reece fascinated me: he told me that Chihuahua was the Mexican province just across the Rio Grande from Texas and at once, I resolved to go on the Trail with these cowpunchers if they’d take me. In two or three days Reece told me I shaped better at riding than anyone he had ever seen, though, he added “when I saw your thick short legs I thought you’d never make much of a hand at it.” But I was strong and had grown nearly six inches in my year in the States and I turned in my toes as Reece directed and hung on to the English saddle by the grip of my knees till I was both tired and sore. In a fortnight Reece made me put five cent pieces between my knees and the saddle and keep them there when galloping or trotting.

This practice soon made a rider of me so far as the seat was concerned and I had already learned that Reece was a past-master in the deeper mysteries of the art for he told me he used to ride colts in the hunting field in England and “that’s how you learn to know horses” he added significantly.

One day I found out that Dell knew some poetry, literature too, and economics and that won me completely; when I asked them would they take me with them as a cowboy, they told me I’d have to ask the Boss, but there was no doubt he’d consent, and he consented, after one sharp glance.

Then came my hardest task: I had to tell Kendrick and Mr. Cotton that I must leave. They were more than astonished: at first they took it to be a little trick to extort a rise in salary: when they saw it was sheer boyish adventure-lust they argued with me but finally gave in. I promised to return to them as soon as I got back to Chicago or got tired of cowpunching. I had nearly eighteen hundred dollars saved, which, by Mr. Cotton’s advice, I transferred to a Kansas City bank he knew well.


                          LIFE ON THE TRAIL.

On the tenth of June, we took train to Kansas City, the Gate at that time of the “Wild West.” In Kansas City I became aware of three more men belonging to the outfit: Bent, Charlie and Bob, the Mexican. Charlie, to begin with the least important, was a handsome American youth, blue-eyed and fair-haired, over six feet in height, very strong, careless, light-hearted: I always thought of him as a big, kind, Newfoundland dog, rather awkward but always well-meaning. Bent was ten years older, a war-veteran, dark, saturnine, purposeful; five feet nine or ten in height with muscles of whipcord and a mentality that was curiously difficult to fathom. Bob, the most peculiar and original man I had ever met up to that time, was a little dried up Mexican, hardly five feet three in height, half Spaniard, half Indian, I believe, who might be thirty or fifty and who seldom opened his mouth except to curse all Americans in Spanish. Even Reece admitted that Bob could ride “above a bit” and knew more about cattle than anyone else in his world. Reece’s admiration directed my curiosity to the little man and I took every opportunity of talking to him and of giving him cigars—a courtesy so unusual that at first he was half inclined to resent it.

It appeared that these three men had been left in Kansas City to dispose of another herd of cattle and to purchase stores needed at the ranch. They were all ready, so the next day we rode out of Kansas City, about four o’clock in the morning; our course roughly south by west. Everything was new and wonderful to me. In three days we had finished with roads and farmsteads and were on the open prairie; in two or three days more, the prairie became the great plains which stretched four or five thousand miles from north to south with a breadth of some seven hundred. The plains wore buffalo grass and sage-brush for a garment, and little else save in the river-bottoms, trees like the cottonwood; everywhere rabbits, prairie chicken, deer and buffalo abounded.

We covered about thirty miles a day: Bob sat in the wagon and drove the four mules, while Bent and Charlie made us coffee and biscuits in the morning and cooked us sow-belly and any game we might bring in for dinner and supper. There was a small keg of rye whisky on the wagon; but we kept it for snake-bite or some emergency.

I became the hunter to the outfit, for it was soon discovered that by some sixth sense I could always find my way back to the wagon on a bee-line, and only Bob of the whole party possessed the same instinct. Bob explained it by muttering “No Americano!” The instinct itself which has stood me in good stead more times than I can count, is in essence inexplicable: I feel the direction; but the vague feeling is strengthened by observing the path of the sun and the way the halms of grass lean, and the bushes grow. But it made me a valuable member of the outfit instead of a mere parasite midway between master and man, and it was the first step to Bob’s liking which taught me more than all the other haps of my early life. I had bought a shotgun and and a Winchester rifle and revolver in Kansas City and Reece had taught me how to get weapons that would fit me and this fact helped to make me a fair shot almost at once. But soon to my grief I found that I would never be a great shot; for Bob and Charlie and even Dell could see things far beyond my range of vision. I was shortsighted in fact through astigmatism and even glasses I discovered later, could not clear my blurred sight.

It was the second or third disappointment of my life the others being the conviction of my personal ugliness and the fact that I should always be too short and small to be a great fighter or athlete.

As I went on in life I discovered more serious disabilities but they only strengthened my deep-seated resolve to make the most of any qualities I might possess and meanwhile the life was divinely new and strange and pleasureful.

After breakfast, about five o’clock in the morning, I would ride away from the wagon till it was out of sight and then abandon myself to the joy of solitude, with no boundary between plain and sky. The air was brisk and dry, as exhilarating as champagne and even when the sun reached the zenith and became blazing hot, the air remained lightsome and invigorating. Mid Kansas is 2000 odd feet above sea-level and the air is so dry that an animal when killed, dries up without stinking and in a few months the hide’s filled with mere dust. Game was plentiful, hardly an hour would elapse before I had got half a dozen ruffed grouse or a deer and then I would walk my pony back to the midday camp with perhaps a new wildflower in hand whose name I wished to learn.

After the midday meal I used to join Bob in the wagon and learn some Spanish words or phrases from him or question him about his knowledge of cattle. In the first week we became great friends: I found to my amusement that Bob was just as voluble in Spanish as he was tongue-tied in English, and his command of Spanish oaths, objurgations and indecencies was astounding. Bob despised all things American with an unimaginable ferocity and this interested me by its apparent unreason.

Once or twice on the way down we had a race; but Reece on a big Kentucky thoroughbred called ‘Shiloh’ won easily. He told me however, that there was a young mare called ‘Blue Devil’ at the ranch which was as fast as Shiloh and of rare stay and stamina: “You can have her, if you can ride her,” he threw out carelessly and I determined to win the ‘Devil’ if I could.

In about ten days we reached the ranch near Eureka; it was set in five thousand acres of prairie, a big frame dwelling, that would hold twenty men; but it wasn’t nearly so well-built as the great, brick stable, the pride of Reece’s eye, which would house forty horses and provide half a dozen with good loose boxes besides, in the best English style.

The house and stable were situated on a long billowy rise perhaps three hundred yards away from a good-sized creek which I soon christened Snake-Creek for snakes of all sorts and sizes simply swarmed in the brush and woodland of the banks. The big sitting-room of the ranch was decorated with revolvers and rifles of a dozen different kinds and pictures, strange to say, cut out of the illustrated papers: the floor was covered with buffalo and bear rugs and rarer skins of mink and beaver hung here and there on the wooden walls. We got to the ranch late one night and I slept in a room with Dell, he taking the bed while I rolled myself in a rug on the couch. But I slept like a top and next morning was out before sunrise to take stock so to speak. An Indian lad showed me the stable and as luck would have it Blue Devil in a loose box, all to herself and very uneasy.

“What’s the matter with her?” I asked, and the Indian told me she had rubbed her ear raw where it joins the head and the flies had got on it and plagued her: I went to the house and got Peggy, the mulatto cook to fill a bucket with warm water and with this bucket and a sponge I entered the loose box: Blue Devil came for me and nipped my shoulder but as soon as I clapped the sponge with warm water on her ear, she stopped biting and we soon became friends. That same afternoon, I led her out in front of the ranch saddled and bridled, got on her and walked her off as quiet as a lamb. “She’s yours!” said Reece; “but if she ever gets your foot in her mouth, you’ll know what pain is!”

It appeared that that was a little trick she had, to tug and tug at the reins till the rider let them go loose and then at once she would twist her head round, get the rider’s toes in her mouth and bite like a fiend. No one she disliked could mount her; for she fought like a man with her fore-feet; but I never had any difficulty with her and she saved my life more than once. Like most feminine creatures she responded immediately to kindness and was faithful to affection.

                 *       *       *       *       *

I’m compelled to notice that if I tell the other happenings in this eventful year at as great length as I’ve told the incidents of the fortnight that brought me from Chicago to the ranch at Eureka, I’d have to devote at least a volume to them, so I prefer to assure my readers that one of these days if I live, I’ll publish my novel “On the Trail” which gives the whole story in great detail. Now I shall content myself with saying that two days after reaching the ranch we set out, ten men strong and two wagons filled with our clothes and provender and dragged by four mules each, to cover the twelve hundred miles to Southern Texas or New Mexico where we hoped to buy 5000 or 6000 head of cattle at a dollar a head and drive them to Kansas City, the nearest train point.

                 *       *       *       *       *

When we got on the Great Trail a hundred miles from Fort Dodge, the days passed in absolute monotony. After sunset a light breeze usually sprang up to make the night pleasantly cool and we would sit and chat about the camp-fire for an hour or two. Strange to say the talk usually turned to bawd or religion or the relations of capital and labor. It was curious how eagerly these rough cattle-men would often discuss the mysteries of this unintelligible world, and as a militant sceptic I soon got a reputation among them; for Dell usually backed me up and his knowledge of books and thinkers seemed to us extraordinary.

These constant evening discussions, this perpetual arguing, had an unimaginable effect on me. I had no books with me and I was often called on to deal with two or three different theories in a night: I had to think out the problems for myself and usually I thought them out when hunting by myself in the daytime. It was as a cowpuncher that I taught myself how to think:—a rare art among men and seldom practised. Whatever originality I possess comes from the fact that in youth, while my mind was in process of growth, I was confronted with important modern problems and forced to think them out for myself and find some reasonable answer to the questionings of half a dozen different minds.

For example, Bent asked one night what the proper wage should be of the ordinary workman? I could only answer that the workman’s wage should increase at least in measure as the productivity of labor increased; but I could not then see how to approach this ideal settlement. When I read Herbert Spencer ten years later in Germany, I was delighted to find that I had divined the best of his sociology and added to it materially. His idea that the amount of individual liberty in a country depends on “the pressure from the outside”, I knew to be only half-true. Pressure from the outside is one factor but not even the most important: the centripetal force in the society itself is often much more powerful: how else can one explain the fact that during the world-war, liberty almost disappeared in these States in spite of the First Amendment to the Constitution. At all times indeed there is much less regard for liberty here than in England or even in Germany or in France: one has only to think of prohibition to admit this. The pull towards the centre in every country is in direct proportion to the mass and accordingly the herd-feeling in America is unreasonably strong.

If we were not arguing or telling smutty stories, Bent would be sure to get out cards and the gambling instinct would keep the boys busy till the stars paled in the eastern sky.

One incident I must relate here, for it broke the monotony of the routine in a curious way.

Our fire at night was made up of buffalo “chips” as the dried excrement was called, and Peggy had asked me, as I got up the earliest, always to replenish the fire before riding away. One morning I picked up a chip with my left hand and as luck would have it, disturbed a little prairie rattlesnake that had been attracted probably by the heat of the camp-fire. As I lifted the chip, the snake struck me on the back of my thumb, then coiled up in a flash and began to rattle. Angered I put my right foot on him and killed him, and at the same moment bit out the place on my thumb where I had been stung, and then, still unsatisfied, rubbed my thumb in the red embers, especially above the wound. I paid little further attention to the matter; it seemed to me that the snake was too small to be very poisonous; but on returning to the wagon to wake Peggy, he cried out and called the Boss and Reece and Dell and was manifestly greatly perturbed and even anxious. Reece too agreed with him that the bite of the little prairie rattlesnake was just as venomous as that of his big brother of the woods.

The Boss produced a glass of whisky and told me to drink it: I didn’t want to take it; but he insisted and I drank it off. “Did it burn?” he asked: “No, ’twas just like water!” I replied and noticed that the Boss and Reece exchanged a meaning look.

At once the Boss declared I must walk up and down and each taking an arm they walked me solemnly round and round for half an hour. At the end of that time I was half asleep; the Boss stopped and gave me another jorum of whisky: for a moment it awakened me, then I began to get numb again and deaf. Again they gave me whisky: I revived but in five minutes I sagged down and begged them to let me sleep.

“Sleep be d—d!” cried the Boss, “you’d never wake. Pull yourself together,” and again I was given whisky. Then, dimly I began to realise that I must use my will-power and so I started to jump about and shake off the overpowering drowsiness. Another two or three drinks of whisky and much frisking about occupied the next couple of hours, when suddenly I became aware of a sharp, intense pang of pain in my left thumb.

“Now you can sleep,” said the Boss, “if you’re minded to; I guess whisky has wiped out the rattler!”

The pain in my burnt thumb was acute: I found too I had a headache for the first time in my life. But Peggy gave me hot water to drink and the headache soon disappeared. In a day or two I was as well as ever, thanks, to the vigorous regimen of the Boss; in the course of a single year we lost two young men just through the little prairie snakes that seemed so insignificant.

The days passed quickly till we came near the first towns in southern Texas: then every man wanted his arrears of salary from the Boss and proceeded to shave and doll up in wildest excitement. Charlie was like a madman. Half an hour after reaching the chief saloon in the town, everyone of them save Bent was crazy drunk and intent on finding some girl with whom to spend the night. I didn’t even go to the saloon with them and begged Charlie in vain not to play the fool. “That’s what I live for”, he shouted, and raced off.

I had got accustomed to spend all my spare time with Reece, Dell, Bob or the Boss, and from all of them I learned a good deal. In a short time I had exhausted the Boss and Reece; but Dell and Bob each in his own way was richly equipped, and while Dell introduced me to literature and economics, Bob taught me some of the mysteries of cowpunching and the peculiar morals of Texan cattle. Every little herd of those half-wild animals had its own leader, it appeared and followed him fanatically. When we brought together a few different bunches in our corral, there was confusion worse confounded till after much hooking and some fighting a new leader would be chosen whom all would obey. But sometimes we lost five or six animals in the mellay. I found that Bob could ride his pony in among the half-savage brutes and pick out the future leader for them. Indeed, at the great sports held near Taos, he went in on foot where many herds had been corralled and led out the leader amid the triumphant cheers of his compatriots who challenged los Americanos to emulate that feat. Bob’s knowledge of cattle was uncanny and all I know I learned from him.

For the first week or so, Reece and the Boss were out all day buying cattle; Reece would generally take Charlie and Jack Freeman, young Americans, to drive his purchases home to the big corral; while the Boss called indifferently first on one and then on another to help him. Charlie was the first to lay off: he had caught a venereal disease, the very first night and had to lie up for more than a month. One after the other, all the younger men fell to the same plague. I went into the nearest town and consulted doctors and did what I could for them; but the cure was often slow for they would drink now and again to drown care and several in this way, made the disease chronic. I could never understand the temptation; to get drunk was bad enough; but in that state to go with some dirty Greaser woman, or half-breed prostitute was incomprehensible to me.

Naturally I enquired about the Vidals; but no one seemed to have heard of them and though I did my best, the weeks passed without my finding a trace of them. I wrote, however, to the address Gloria had given me before leaving Chicago so that I might be able to forward any letters; but I had left Texas before I heard from her: indeed her letter reached me in the Fremont House when I got back to Chicago. She simply told me that they had crossed the Rio Grande and had settled in their hacienda on the other side, where perhaps, she added coyly, I would pay them a visit some day. I wrote thanking her and assuring her that her memory transfigured the world for me—which was the bare truth: I took infinite pains to put this letter into good Spanish though I fear that in spite of Bob’s assistance it had a dozen faults. But I’m outrunning my story.

Rapidly the herd was got together. Early in July we started northwards driving before us some 6000 head of cattle which certainly hadn’t cost five thousand dollars. That first year everything went well with us; we only saw small bands of Plain Indians and we were too strong for them. The Boss had allowed me to bring 500 head of cattle on my own account: he wished to reward me, he said, for my incessant hard work; but I was sure it was Reece and Dell who put the idea into his head.

The fact that some of the cattle were mine made me a most watchful and indefatigable herdsman. More than once my vigilances sharpened by Bob’s instinct, made a difference to our fortunes. When we began to skirt the Indian Territory, Bob warned me that a small band or even a single Indian might try some night to stampede the herd. About a week later, I noticed that the cattle were uneasy: “Indians!” said Bob when I told him the signs, “cunning beasts!” That night I was off duty, but was on horseback circling round as usual, when about midnight, I saw a white figure leap from the ground with an unearthly yell. The cattle began to run together so I threw my rifle up and fired at the Indian and though I didn’t hit him, he thought it better to drop the sheet and decamp. In five minutes we had pacified the cattle again and nothing unfortunate happened that night or indeed till we reached Wichita which was then the outpost of civilization. In ten days more we were in Kansas City entraining, though we sold a fourth of our cattle there at about fifteen dollars a head. We reached Chicago about the first of October and put the cattle in the yards about the Michigan St. Depot. Next day we sold more than half the herd and I was lucky enough to get a purchaser at fifteen dollars a head for three hundred of my beasts. If it hadn’t been for the Boss who held out for three cents a pound, I should have sold all I had. As it was I came out with more than five thousand dollars in the Bank and felt myself another Croesus. My joy, however, was short-lived.

Of course I stayed in the Fremont, and was excellently received. The management had slipped back a good deal, I thought, but I was glad that I was no longer responsible and could take my ease in my inn. But my six months on the Trail had marked my very being. It made a workman of me and above all, it taught me that tense resolution, will-power was the most important factor of success in life. I made up my mind to train my will by exercise as I would train a muscle and each day I proposed to myself a new test. For example I liked potatoes so I resolved not to eat one for a week, or again I foreswore coffee that I loved, for a month, and I was careful to keep to my determination. I had noticed a French saying that intensified my decision, celui qui veut, celui-là peut:—‘he who wills, can.’ My mind should govern me, not my appetites, I decided.

[Illustration]




Chapter VII. THE GREAT FIRE OF CHICAGO.

I wish I could persuade myself that I was capable of picturing the events of the week after we reached Chicago.

We arrived, if I remember rightly, on a Wednesday and put our cattle and horses in the stockyards near the Michigan Street depot. As I have related, we sold on Thursday and Friday about three-fifths of the cattle. I wanted to sell all, but followed the judgment of the Boss and sold three hundred head and put a little over five thousand dollars in my banking account.

On Saturday night the alarm bells began to ring and awoke me. I slipped into my breeches, shirt and boots and a youthful curiosity exciting me, I raced downstairs, got Blue Devil from the stable and rode out to the fire. I was infinitely impressed by the rapidity with which the firemen acted and the marvelous efficiency of the service. Where in England there would have been perhaps half a dozen fire-engines, the Americans sent fifty, but they all found work and did it magnificently. At one o’clock the fire was out and I returned to the hotel through two or three miles of uninjured streets. Of course, I told Reece and Ford all about it the next day. To my astonishment, no one seemed to pay much attention; a fire was so common a thing in the wooden shanties on the outskirts of American towns that nobody cared to listen to my epic.

Next night, Sunday, the alarm bell began ringing about eleven o’clock: I was still dressed in my best. I changed into my working clothes, I do not know why, put my belt about me with a revolver in it and again took out the mare and rode to the fire. When still a quarter of a mile away, I realized that this fire was much more serious than that of the previous night: first of all, a gale of wind was blowing right down on the town. Then, when I wondered why there were so few fire-engines, I was told that there were two other fires and the man with whom I talked did not scruple to ascribe them to a plot and determination to burn down the town! “Them damned foreign anarchists are at the bottom of it,” he said, “three fires do not start on the very outskirts of the town with a gale of wind blowing, without some reason.”

And indeed, it looked as if he were right. In spite of all the firemen could do, the fire spread with incredible rapidity. In half an hour I saw they were not going to master it soon or easily and I rode back to get Reece, who had told me that he would have come with me the previous night if he had known where the fire was. When I got back to the hotel, Reece had gone out on his own and so had Dell and the Boss. I went back to the fire. It had caught on in the most extraordinary way. The wooden streets now were all blazing; the fire was swallowing block after block and the heat was so tremendous that the fire-engines could not get within two hundred yards of the blaze. The roar of the fire was unearthly.

Another thing I noticed almost immediately: the heat was so terrific that the water decomposed into its elements and the oxygen gas in the water burned vehemently on its own account. The water, in fact, added fuel to the flames. As soon as I made sure of this, I saw that the town was doomed and walked my pony back a block or two to avoid flying sparks.

This must have been about three or four o’clock in the morning. I had gone back about three blocks when I came across a man talking to a group of men at the corner of a street. He was the one man of insight and sense I met that night. He seemed to me a typical, down-east Yankee: he certainly talked like one. The gist of his speech was as follows:

“I want you men to come with me right now to the Mayor and tell him to give orders to blow up at least two blocks deep all along this side of the town; then, if we drench the houses on the other side, the flames will be stopped: there’s no other way.”

“That’s sense”, I cried, “that’s what ought to be done at once. There’s no other way of salvation; for the heat is disintegrating the water and the oxygen in the water is blazing fiercely, adding fuel to the flames.”

“Gee! that’s what I have been preaching for the last hour”, he cried.

A little later fifty or sixty citizens went to the Mayor, but he protested that he had no power to blow up houses and evidently, too, shirked the responsibility. He decided, however, to call in some of the councilmen and see what could be done. Meanwhile I went off and wandered towards the Randolph Street bridge and there saw a scene that appalled me.

Some men had caught a thief, they said, plundering one of the houses and they proceeded to string the poor wretch up to a lamp-post.

In vain I pleaded for his life, declared that he ought to be tried, that it was better to let off ten guilty men than hang one innocent one, but my foreign accent robbed my appeal, I think, of any weight and before my eyes the man was strung up. It filled me with rage; it seemed to me a dreadful thing to have done: the cruelty of the executioners, the hard purpose of them, shut me away from my kin. Later I was to see these men from a better angle.

By the early morning the fire had destroyed over a mile deep of the town and was raging with unimaginable fury. I went down on the lakeshore just before daybreak. The scene was one of indescribable magnificence: there were probably a hundred and fifty thousand homeless men, women and children grouped along the lake shore. Behind us roared the fire; it spread like a red sheet right up to the zenith above our heads, and from there was borne over the sky in front of us by long streamers of fire like rockets: vessels four hundred yards out in the bay were burning fiercely, and we were, so to speak, roofed and walled by flame. The danger and uproar were indeed terrifying and the heat, even in this October night, almost unbearable.

I wandered along the lake shore, noting the kind way in which the men took care of the women and children. Nearly every man was able to erect some sort of shelter for his wife and babies, and everyone was willing to help his neighbor. While working at one shelter for a little while, I said to the man I wished I could get a drink.

“You can get one”, he said, “right there”, and he pointed to a sort of makeshift shanty on the beach. I went over and found that a publican had managed to get four barrels down on the beach and had rigged up a sort of low tent above them; on one of the barrels he had nailed his shingle, and painted on it were the words, “What do you think of our hell? No drinks less than a dollar!” The wild humor of the thing amused me infinitely and the man certainly did a roaring trade.

A little later it occurred to me that our cattle might possibly burn, so I went out and hurried back to the Michigan Street stockyards. An old Irishman was in charge of the yard, but though he knew me perfectly well, he refused to let me take out a steer. The cattle were moving about wildly, evidently in a state of intense excitement. I pleaded with the man and begged him, and at length tied my mare up to the lamp-post at the corner and went back and got into the stockyard when he wasn’t looking. I let down two or three of the bars and the next moment started the cattle through the opening. They went crazy wild and choked the gateway. In five minutes there were ten or twelve dead cattle in the entrance and the rest had to go over them. Suddenly, just as I got through the gap, the mad beasts made a rush and carried away the rails on both sides of the gateway. The next moment I was knocked down and I had just time to drag myself through the fence and so avoid their myriad trampling heels.

A few minutes later, I was on Blue Devil, trying to get the cattle out of the town and on to the prairie. The herd broke up at almost every corner but I managed to get about six hundred head right out into the country.

I drove them on the dead run for some miles. By this time it was daybreak and at the second or third farmhouse I came to, I found a farmer willing to take in the cattle. I bargained with him a little and at length told him I would give him a dollar a head if he kept them for the week or so we might want to leave them with him. In two minutes he brought out his son and an Irish helper and turned the cattle back and into his pasture. There were six hundred and seventy-six of them, as near as I could count, out of practically two thousand head.

By the time I had finished the business and returned to the hotel, it was almost noon and as I could get nothing to eat, I wandered out again to see the progress of the fire. Already I found that relief trains were being sent in with food from all neighboring towns and this was the feature of the next week in starving Chicago.

Strangely enough, at that time the idea was generally accepted that a man or woman could only live three days without food. It was years before Dr. Tanner showed the world that a man could fast for forty days or more. Everyone I met acted as if he believed that if he were fully three days without food, he must die incontinently. I laughed at the idea which seemed to me absurd, but so strong was the universal opinion and the influence of the herd-sentiment, that on the third day I too felt particularly empty and thought I had better take my place in the bread line. There were perhaps five thousand in front of me and there were soon fifty or sixty thousand behind me. We were five deep moving to the depot where the bread trains were discharging, one after the other. When I got pretty close to the food wagons, I noticed that the food supply was coming to an end, and next moment I noticed something else.

Again and again women and girls came into our bread line and walked through the lines of waiting men, who, mark you, really believed they were going to die that night if they could not get food, but instead of objecting they one and all made way for the women and girls and encouraged them: “Go right on, Madam, take all you want:” “This way, Missee, you won’t be able to carry much, I’m afraid”;—proof on proof, it seemed to me, of courage, good humor and high self-abnegation. I went into that bread line an Irish boy and came out of it a proud American, but I did not get any bread that night or the next. In fact, my first meal was made when I ran across Reece on the Friday or Saturday after: Reece, as usual, had fallen on his feet and found a hotel where they had provisions—though at famine prices.

He insisted that I should come with him and soon got me my first meal. In return, I told him and Ford of the cattle I had saved. They were, of course, delighted and determined next day to come out and retrieve them. “One thing is certain,” said Ford, “six hundred head of cattle are worth as much today in Chicago as fifteen hundred head were worth before the fire, so we hain’t lost much.”

Next day I led Reece and the Boss straight to the farmer’s place, but to my surprise he told me that I had agreed to give him two dollars a head, whereas I had bargained with him for only one dollar. His son backed up the farmer’s statement and the Irish helper declared that he was sorry to disagree with me, but I was mistaken; it was two dollars I had said. They little knew the sort of men they had to deal with. “Where are the cattle?” Ford asked, and we went down to the pasture where they were penned. “Count them, Harris,” said Ford, and I counted six hundred and twenty head. Fifty odd had disappeared, but the farmer wanted to persuade me that I had counted wrongly.

Ford went about and soon found a rough lean-to stable where there were thirty more head of Texan cattle. These were driven up and soon disappeared in the herd; Reece and I began to move the herd towards the entrance. The farmer declared he would not let us go, but Ford looked at him a little while and then said very quietly, “You have stolen enough cattle to pay you. If you bother with us, I will make meat of you—see!—cold meat”, and the farmer moved aside and kept quiet.

That night we had a great feast and the day after Ford announced that he had sold the whole of the cattle to two hotel proprietors and got nearly as much money as if we had not lost a hoof.

My five thousand dollars became six thousand, five hundred.

The courage shown by the common people in the fire, the wild humor coupled with the consideration for the women, had won my heart. This is the greatest people in the world, I said to myself, and was proud to feel at one with them.




Chapter VIII. ON THE TRAIL!

Prompted by Dell, before leaving Chicago I bought some books for the winter evenings, notably Mill’s “Political Economy”; Carlyle’s “Heroes and Hero Worship” and “Latter Day Pamphlets”; Col. Hay’s “Dialect Poems”, too and three medical books, and took them down with me to the ranch. We had six weeks of fine weather, during which I broke in horses under Reece’s supervision, and found out that gentleness and especially carrots and pieces of sugar were the direct way to the heart of the horse; discovered, too, that a horse’s bad temper and obstinacy were nearly always due to fear. A remark of Dell that a horse’s eye had a magnifying power and that the poor, timid creatures saw men as trees walking, gave me the clue and soon I was gratified by Reece saying that I could “gentle” horses as well as anyone on the ranch, excepting Bob.

As winter drew down and the bitter frost came, outdoor work almost ceased. I read from morning till night and not only devoured Mill, but saw through the fallacy of his Wage-Fund theory. I knew from my own experience that the wages of labor depended primarily on the productivity of labor. I liked Mill for his humanitarian sympathies with the poor; but I realized clearly that he was a second-rate intelligence, just as I felt pretty sure that Carlyle was one of the Immortals. I took Carlyle in small doses, for I wanted to think for myself. After the first

s I tried to put down first, chapter by chapter, what I thought or knew about the subject treated, and am still inclined to believe that that is a good way to read in order to estimate what the author has taught you.

Carlyle was the first dominant influence in my life and one of the most important: I got more from him than from any other writer. His two or three books learned almost by heart, taught me that Dell’s knowledge was skimpy and superficial and I was soon Sir Oracle among the men on all deep subjects. For the medical books, too, turned out to be excellent and gave me almost the latest knowledge on all sex-matters. I was delighted to put all my knowledge at the disposal of the boys, or rather to show off to them how much I knew.

That fall brought me to grief: early in October I was taken by ague; “chills and fever” as it was called. I suffered miseries and though Reece induced me to ride all the same and spend most of the daytime in the open, I lost weight till I learned that arsenic was a better specific even than quinine. Then I began to mend, but, off and on, every fall and spring afterwards, so long as I stayed in America, I had to take quinine and arsenic to ward off the debilitating attacks.

I was very low indeed when we started down on the Trail; the Boss being determined, as he said, to bring up two herds that summer. Early in May he started north from near St. Anton’ with some five thousand head, leaving Reece, Dell, Bob, Peggy the cook, Bent, Charlie and myself to collect another herd. I never saw the Boss again; understood, however, from Reece’s cursing that he had got through safely, sold the cattle at a good price and made off with all the proceeds, though he owed Reece and Dell more than one-half.

Charlie’s love-adventure that ended so badly didn’t quiet him for long. In our search for cheap cattle we had gone down nearly to the Rio Grande and there, in a little half-Mexican town, Charlie met his fate.

As it so happened, I had gone to the saloon with him on his promise that he would only drink one glass, and though the glass would be full of forty-rod whisky, I knew it would have only a passing effect on Charlie’s superb strength. But it excited him enough to make him call up all the girls for a drink: they all streamed laughing to the bar, all save one. Naturally Charlie went after her and found a very pretty blond girl, who had a strain of Indian blood in her, it was said. At first she didn’t yield to Charlie’s invitation, so he turned away angrily, saying:

“You don’t want to drink probably because you want to cure yourself or because you’re ugly where women are usually beautiful.” Answering the challenge the girl sprang to her feet, tore off her jacket and in a moment was naked to her boots and stockings.

“Am I ugly?” she cried, pushing out her breasts, “or do I look ill, you fool!” and whirled around to give us the back view!

She certainly had a lovely figure with fair youthful breasts and peculiarly full bottom and looked the picture of health. The full cheeks of her behind excited me intensely, I didn’t know why: therefore, it didn’t surprise me when Charlie, with a half-articulate shout of admiration, picked her up bodily in his arms and carried her out of the room.

When I remonstrated with him afterwards, he told me he had a sure way of knowing whether the girl, Sue, was diseased or not.

I contradicted him and found that this was his infallible test: as soon as he was alone with a girl, he pulled out ten or twenty dollars, as the case might be, and told her to keep the money. “I’ll not give you more in any case”, he would add: “now tell me, dear, if you are ill and we’ll have a last drink and then I’ll go. If she’s ill, she’s sure to tell you—see!” and he laughed triumphantly.

“Suppose she doesn’t know she’s ill?” I asked: but he replied: “they always know and they’ll tell the truth when their greed is not against you.”

For some time it looked as if Charlie had enjoyed his Beauty without any evil consequences, but a month or so later he noticed a lump in his right groin and soon afterwards a syphilitic sore showed itself just under the head of his penis. We had already started northwards, but I had to tell Charlie the plain truth.

“Then it’s serious”, he cried in astonishment, and I replied.

“I’m afraid so, but not if you take it in time and go under a rigorous regimen.”

Charlie did everything he was told to do and always bragged that gonorrhea was much worse, as it is certainly more painful, than syphilis; but the disease in time had its revenge.

As he began to get better on the Trail, thanks to the good air, regular exercise and absence of drink, he became obstreperous from time to time and I at any rate forgot about his ailment.

The defection of the Boss made a serious difference to us; Reece and Dell with three or four Mexicans and Peggy went on slowly buying cattle; but Bob and Bent put a new scheme into my head. Bent was always preaching that the Boss’s defection had ruined Reece and that if I would put in, say five thousand dollars, I could be Reece’s partner and make a fortune with him. Bob, too, was keen on this and told me incidentally that he could get cattle from the Mexicans for nothing. I had a talk with Reece who said he’d have to be content with buying 3000 head for cattle had gone up in price twofold and the Boss’s swindle had crippled him. If I would pay Bent’s, Charlie’s and Bob’s wages, he’d be delighted, he said, to join forces with me: on Bob’s advice, I consented and with his help, I managed to secure three thousand head for little more than three thousand dollars. And this is how we managed it.

For some reason or other, perhaps, because I had learnt a few words of Spanish, Bob had taken a fancy to me and was always willing to help me except when he was mad with drink. He now assured me that if I would go with him down the Rio Grande a hundred miles or so, he’d get me a thousand head of cattle for nothing. I consented, for Bent, too, and Charlie, were on Bob’s side.

The next morning before sunrise we started out and rode steadily to the southeast. We carried enough food for two or three days. Bob saw to that without any question, but generally he brought us about eight o’clock near some house or other where we could get food and shelter. His knowledge of the whole frontier was as uncanny as his knowledge of cattle.

On the fourth or fifth day about nine in the morning he stopped us by a little wooded height looking over a gorge of the river. To the left the river spread out almost to a shallow lake, and one did not need to be told that a little lower down there must be one or more fords where cattle could cross almost without wetting themselves.

Bob got off his horse in a clump of cottonwood trees which he said was a good place to camp without being seen. I asked him where the cattle were and he told me “across the river.” Within two or three miles, it appeared, there was a famous hacienda with great herds. As soon as it got dark he proposed to go across and find out all about it and bring us the news. We were to be careful not to be seen and he hoped that we would not even make a fire but lie close till he returned.

We were more than willing, and when we got tired of talking Bent produced an old deck of cards and we would play draw poker or euchre or casino for two or three hours. The first night passed quickly enough. We had been in the saddle for ten hours a day for four or five days and slept a dreamless sleep. Bob did not return that day or the next and on the third day Bent began to curse him, but I felt sure he had good reason for the delay and so waited with what patience I could muster. On the third night he was suddenly with us just as if he had come out of the earth.

“Welcome back”, I cried. “Everything right?”

“Everything”, he said: “It was no good coming sooner; they have brought some cattle within four miles of the river; the orders are to keep ’em away seven or eight miles, so that they could not be driven across without rousing the whole country; but Don José is very rich and carefree and there is a herd of fifteen hundred that will suit us not three miles from the river in a fold of the prairie guarded only by two men whom I’ll make so very drunk that they’ll hear nothing till next morning. A couple of bottles of aguardiente will do the bizness, and I’ll come back for you tomorrow night by eight or nine o’clock.”

It all turned out as Bob had arranged. The next night he came to us as soon as it was dark. We rode some two miles down the river to a ford, splashed through the rivulets of water and came out on the Mexican side. In single file and complete silence we followed Bob at a lope for perhaps twenty minutes when he put up his hand and we drew down to a walk. There below us between two waves of prairie were the cattle.

In a few words Bob told Bent and Charlie what they were to do. Bent was to stay behind and shoot in case we were followed—unlikely but always possible. Charlie and I were to move the cattle towards the ford, quietly all the way if we could, but if we were pursued, then as hard as we could drive them.

For the first half hour all went according to program. Charlie and I moved the cattle together and drove them over the waves of prairie towards the river; it all seemed as easy as eating and we had begun to push the cattle into a fast walk when suddenly there was a shot in front and a sort of stampede!

At once Charlie shot out on the left as I shot out on the right and using our whips, we quickly got the herd into motion again, the rear ranks forcing the front ones on; the cattle were soon pressed into a shuffling trot and the difficulty seemed overcome. Just at that moment I saw two or three bright flames half a mile away on the other side of Charlie and suddenly I heard the zip of a bullet pass my own head and turning, saw pretty plainly a man riding fifty yards away from me. I took very careful aim at his horse and fired and was delighted to see horse and man come down and disappear. I paid no further attention to him and kept on forcing the pace of the cattle. But Charlie was very busily engaged for two or three minutes because the fusillade was kept up from behind till he was joined by Bent and shortly afterwards by Bob. We were all now driving the cattle as hard as they could go, straight towards the ford. The shots behind us continued and even grew more frequent, but we were not further molested till three quarters of an hour later we reached the Rio Grande and began urging the cattle across the ford. There progress was necessarily slow. We could scarcely have got across had it not been that about the middle Bob came up and made his whip and voice a perfect terror to the beasts in the rear.

When we got them out on the other side I began to turn them westwards towards our wooded knoll, but the next moment Bob was beside me shouting—“Straight ahead, straight ahead; they are following us and we shall have to fight. You get on with the herd always straight north and I’ll bring Charlie back to the bank so as to hold ’em off.”

Boylike, I said I would rather go and fight, but he said: “You go on. If Charlie killed, no matter. I want you.” And I had perforce to do what the little devil ordered.

When Texan cattle have been brought up together the largest herd can be driven like a small bunch. They have their leader and they follow him religiously and so one man can drive a thousand head with very little trouble.

For two or three miles I kept them on the trot and then I let them gradually get down to a walk. I did not want to lose any more of them; some fat cows had already died in their tracks through being driven so fast.

About two o’clock in the morning I passed a log-house and soon an American rode up beside me and wanted to know who I was, where I had brought the cattle from and where I was going! I told him the owner was behind me, and the boys and I were driving them straight ahead because some greasers had been interfering with us.

“That’s the shooting I heard”, he said. “You have driven them across the river: haven’t you?”

“I’ve driven them from the river,” I replied; “some of them were getting a drink.”

I could feel him grin though I was not looking at him.

“I guess I’ll see your friends pretty soon,” he said, “but this raiding is bad business. Them greasers’ll come across and give me trouble. We border-folk don’t want a fuss, hatched up by you foreigners!”

I placated him as well as I could; but at first was unsuccessful. He didn’t say much but he evidently intended to come with me to the end because wherever I rode, I found him right behind the herd when I returned.

Day had broken when I let the cattle halt for the first time. I reckoned I had gone twelve miles from the ford and the beasts were foot-sore and very tired; more and more of them requiring the whip in order to keep up even a walk. I bunched them together and came back to my saturnine acquaintance.

“You are young to be at this game”, he said. “Who is your Boss?”

“I don’t keep a boss”, I answered, taking him in with hostile scrutiny. He was a man of about forty, tall and lean with an enormous quid of tobacco in his left cheek—a typical Texan.

His bronco interested me; instead of being an Indian pony of thirteen hands or so it was perhaps fifteen and a half and looked to be three-quarters bred.

“A good horse you have there”, I said.

“The best in the hull country,” he replied, “easy.”

“That’s only your conceit”, I retorted. “The mare I am on right now can give him a hundred yards in a mile.”

“You don’t want to risk any money on that, do you?” he remarked.

“Oh, yes”, I smiled.

“Well, we can try it out one of these days, but here comes your crowd”, and indeed, although I had not expected them, in five minutes Bent and Bob and Charlie rode up.

“Get the cattle going”, cried Bob, as he came within earshot. “We must go on. The Mexicans have gone back but they will come right after us again. Who is this?” he added, ranging up beside the Texan.

“My name is Locker”, said my acquaintance; “and I guess your raiding will set the whole border boiling. Can’t you buy cattle decently, like we all have to?”

“How do you know how decently we paid for them?” cried Bent, thrusting forward his brown face like a weasel’s, his dog teeth showing.

“I guess Mr. Locker is all right”, I cried laughing; “I propose he should help us and take two or three hundred head as payment, or the value of them—”

“Now you’re talking”, said Locker. “I call that sense. There is a herd of mine about a mile further on; if two or three hundred of your José steers join it, I can’t hinder ’em; but I’d rather have dollars; cash is scarce!”

“Are they herded?” asked Bob.

“Sure”, replied Locker. “I am too near the river to let any cattle run round loose though nobody has interfered with me in the last ten years.”

Bob and I began moving the cattle on leaving Bent with Locker to conclude the negotiations. In an hour we had found Locker’s herd that must have numbered at least six thousand head and were guarded by three herdsmen.

Locker and Bent had soon come to a working agreement. Locker it turned out had another herd some distance to the east from which he could draw three or four herdsmen. He had also a couple of boys, sons of his, whom he could send to rouse some of the neighboring farmers if the need was urgent. It turned out that we had done well to be generous to him for he knew the whole of the countryside like a book and was a good friend in our need.

Late in the afternoon, Locker was informed by one of his sons, a youth of about sixteen, that twenty Mexicans had crossed the river and would be up to us in a short time. Locker sent him after the younger boy to round up as many Texans as possible but before they could be collected, a bunch of greasers, twenty or so, in number, rode up and demanded the return of the cattle. Bent and Locker put them off and as luck would have it, while they were arguing, three or four Texans came up, and one of them, a man of about forty years of age named Rossiter, took control of the whole dispute. He told the Mexican leader, who said he was Don Luis, a son of Don José, that if he stayed any longer he would probably be arrested and put in prison for raiding American territory and threatening people.

The Mexican seemed to have a good deal of pluck, and declared that he would not only threaten but carry out his threat. Rossiter told him to wade right in. The loud talk began again, and a couple more Texans came up and the Mexican leader realizing that unless he did something at once he would be too late, started to circle round the cattle, no doubt thinking that if he did some thing his superior numbers would scare us.

In five minutes the fight had begun. In ten more it was all over. Nothing could stand against the deadly shooting of the Westerners. In five minutes one or two of the Mexicans had been killed and several wounded; half a dozen horses had gone down; it was perfectly evident that the eight or ten of us were more than a match for the twenty Mexicans, for except Don Luis, none of them seemed to have any stomach for the work, and Luis got a bullet through his arm in the first five minutes. Finally they drew off threatening and yelling and we saw no more of them.

After the battle we all adjourned to Locker’s and had a big drink. Nobody took the fight seriously: whipping Greasers was nothing to brag about; but Rossiter thought that a claim should be made against the Mexican Government for raiding United States territory: said he was going to draw up the papers and send them to the State District Attorney at Austin. The proposal was received with whoops and cheers. The idea of punishing the Mexicans for getting shot trying to recapture their own cattle appealed to us Americans as something intensely humorous. All the Texans gave their names solemnly as witnesses, and Rossiter swore he would draw up the document. Years afterwards Bent whom I met by chance, told me that Rossiter had got forty thousand dollars on that claim.

Three days later we began to move our cattle eastward to rejoin Reece and Dell. I gave one hundred dollars as a reward to Locker’s two boys who had helped us from start to finish most eagerly.

A week or so later we got back to the main camp. Reece and Dell had their herd ready and fat, and after a talk we resolved to go each on his own and join afterwards for the fall and winter on the ranch, if it pleased us. We took three weeks to get our bunch of cattle into condition and so began driving North in July. I spent every night in the saddle and most of the day, even though the accursed fever was shaking me.

All went well with us at first: I promised my three lieutenants a third share in the profits and a small wage besides: they were as keen as mustard and did all men could do. As soon as we reached the latitude of the Indian territory our troubles began. One wild night Indians, who wore sheets and had smeared their hands with phosphorus, stampeded the cattle and though the boys did wonders we lost nearly a thousand head and some hundred horses all of them broken in carefully.

It was a serious loss but not irreparable. The Plain Indians, however, were as persistent that summer as mosquitoes. I never went out after game but they tried to cut me off and once at least nothing but the speed and stamina of Blue Devil saved me. I had to give up serious shooting and depend on luck bringing us near game. Gradually the Indians following us grew more numerous and bolder. We were attacked at nightfall and daybreak three or four days running and the half wild cattle began to get very scary.

Bob did not conceal his anxiety. “Bad Injuns! very mean Injuns—!” One afternoon they followed us openly; there were at one time over a hundred in view; evidently they were getting ready for a serious attack. Bob’s genius got us a respite. While Charlie was advising a pitched battle, Bob suddenly remembered that there was a scrub-oak forest some five miles further on to our right that would give us a refuge. Charlie and Bent, the best shots, lay down and began to shoot and soon made the Indians keep out of sight. In three hours we reached the scrub-oak wood and the bay or bight in it where Bob said the cattle would be safe; for nothing could get through scrub-oak and as soon as we had driven the cattle deep into the bay and brought our wagon to the centre, on the arc of the bight, so to speak, no Indians could stampede the cattle without blotting us out first. For the moment we were safe and as luck would have it, the water in a little creek near by was drinkable. Still we were besieged by over a hundred Indians and those odds were heavy as even Bob admitted.

Days passed and the siege continued: the Indians evidently meant to tire us out and get the herd, and our tempers didn’t improve under the enforced idleness and vigilance. One evening Charlie was sprawling at the fire taking up more than his share of it, when Bent who had been looking after the cattle, came in. “Take up your legs, Charlie,” he said roughly, “you don’t want the whole fire.” Charlie didn’t hear or paid no attention: the next moment Bent had thrown himself down on Charlie’s long limbs. With a curse Charlie pushed him off: the next moment Bent had hurled himself on Charlie and had shoved his head down in the fire. After a short struggle Charlie got free and in spite of all I could do, struck Bent.

Bent groped for his gun at once; but Charlie was at him striking and swinging like a wild man and Bent had to meet the attack.

Till the trial came, everyone would have said that Charlie was far and away the better man, younger too and astonishingly powerful. But Bent evidently was no novice at the game. He side-stepped Charlie’s rush and hit out straight and hard and Charlie went down; but was up again like a flash, and went for his man in a wild rush: soon he was down again and everyone realized that sooner or later Bent must win. Fighting, however, has a large element of chance in it and as luck would have it just when Bent seemed most certain of winning, one of Charlie’s wild swings caught him on the point of the jaw and to our amazement he went, down like a log and could not be brought to for some ten minutes. It was the first time I had seen this blow and naturally we all exaggerated the force of it not knowing that a light blow up against the chin jars the spinal cord and knocks any man insensible, in fact, in many cases, such a blow results in partial paralysis and life-long weakness.

Charlie was inclined to brag of his victory but Bob told him the truth and on reflection Bent’s purpose and fighting power made the deeper impression on all of us and he himself took pains next day to warn Charlie:

“Don’t get in my way again”, he said to him drily, “or I’ll make meat of you.”

The dire menace in his hard, face was convincing. “Oh, Hell”, replied Charlie, “who wants to get in your way!”

Reflection teaches me that all the worst toughs on the border in my time were ex-soldiers: it was the Civil war that had bred those men to violence and the use of the revolver; it was the civil war that produced the “Wild Bills” and Bents who forced the good-humored Westerners to hold life cheaply and to use their guns instead of fists.

One evening we noticed a large increase in the force of Indians besieging us: one chief too on a piebald mustang appeared to be urging an immediate attack and soon we found some of the “braves” stealing down the creek to outflank us, while a hundred others streamed past us at four hundred yards’ distance firing wildly. Bob and I went under the creek banks to stop the flankers while Bent and Charlie and Jo brought down more than one horse and man and taught the band of Indians that a direct attack would surely cost them many lives.

Still there were only five of us and a chance bullet or two might make the odds against us desperate.

Talking it over we came to the conclusion that one man should ride to Fort Dodge for help and I was selected as the lightest save Bob and altogether the worst shot besides being the only man who would certainly find his way. Accordingly I brought up Blue Devil at once, took some pounds of jerked beef with me and a goat-water skin I had bought in Taos; a girth and stirrups quickly turned a blanket into a makeshift, light saddle and I was ready.

It was Bob’s uncanny knowledge both of the Trail and of Indian ways that gave me my chance. All the rest advised me to go North out of our bay and then ride for it. He advised me to go south where the large body of Indians had stationed themselves. “They’ll not look for you there”, he said and “you may get through unseen; half an hour’s riding more will take you round them; then you have one hundred and fifty miles north on the Trail—you may pick up a herd—and then one hundred and twenty miles straight west. You ought to be in Dodge in five days and back here in five more; you’ll find us”, he added significantly. The little man padded Blue Devil’s hooves with some old garments he cut up and insisted on leading her away round the bight and far to the south, and I verily believe beyond the Indian camp.

There he took off the mare’s pads, while I tightened the girths and started to walk keeping the mare between me and the Indians and my ears cocked for the slightest sound. But I heard nothing and saw nothing and in an hour more had made the round and was on the Trail for the north determined in my own mind to do the two or three hundred miles in four days at most.... On the fourth day I got twenty troopers from the Fort with Lieutenant Winder and was leading them in a bee-line to our Refuge. We got there in six days; but in the mean time the Indians had been busy.

They cut a way through the scrub-oak brush that we regarded as impassable and stampeded the cattle one morning just at dawn and our men were only able to herd off about six or seven hundred head and protect them in the extreme north corner of the bend. The Indians had all drawn off the day before I arrived with the U. S. Cavalry troopers.... Next morning we began the march northwards and I had no difficulty in persuading Lieutenant Winder to give us his escort for the next four or five days....

A week later we reached Wichita where we decided to rest for a couple of days and there we encountered another piece of bad luck. Ever since he had caught syphilis, Charlie seemed to have lost his gay temper: he became gloomy and morose and we could do nothing to cheer him up. The very first night he had to be put to bed at the gambling saloon in Wichita where he had become speechlessly drunk. And next day he was convinced that he had been robbed of his money by the man who kept the bank and went about swearing that he would get even with him at all costs. By the evening he had infected Bent and Jo with his insane determination and finally I went along hoping to save him, if I could, from some disaster.

Already I had asked Bob to get another herdsman and drive the cattle steadily towards Kansas City: he consented and for hours before we went to the saloon, Bob had been trekking north. I intended to rejoin him some five or six miles further on and drive slowly for the rest of the night. Somehow or other, I felt that the neighborhood was unhealthy for us.

The gambling saloon was lighted by three powerful oil lamps: two over the faro-table and one over the bar. Jo stationed himself at the bar while Bent and Charlie went to the table: I walked about the room trying to play the indifferent among the twenty or thirty men scattered about. Suddenly about 10 o’clock Charlie began disputing with the banker: they both rose, the banker drawing a big revolver from the table drawer in front of him. At the same moment Charlie struck the lamp above him and I saw him draw his gun just as all the lights went out leaving us in pitch darkness.

I ran to the door and was carried through it in a sort of mad stampede. A minute afterwards Bent joined me and then Charlie came rushing out at top speed with Jo hard after him. In a moment we were at the corner of the street where we had left our ponies and were off: one or two shots followed; I thought we had got off scot free; but I was mistaken.

We had ridden hell for leather, for about an hour when Charlie without apparent reason pulled up and swaying fell out of his saddle: his pony stopped dead and we all gathered round the wounded man:

“I’m finished”, said Charlie in a weak voice, “but I’ve got my money back and I want you to send it to my mother in Pleasant Hill, Missouri. It’s about a thousand dollars, I guess.”

“Are you badly hurt?” I asked.

“He drilled me through the stomach first go off” Charlie said pointing, “and I guess I’ve got it at least twice more through the lungs: I’m done.”

“What a pity, Charlie!” I cried, “you’ll get more than a thousand dollars from your share of the cattle: I’ve told Bob, that I intend to share equally with all of you: this money must go back; but the thousand shall be sent to your mother I promise you:”—

“Not on your life!”, cried the dying man, lifting himself up on one elbow: “This is my money: it shan’t go back to that oily sneak thief”: the effort had exhausted him; even in the dim light we could see that his face was drawn and gray: he must have understood this himself for I could just hear his last words: “Good-bye, boys!” his head fell back, his mouth opened: the brave boyish spirit was gone.

I couldn’t control my tears: the phrase came to me: “I better could have lost a better man,” for Charlie was at heart a good fellow!

I left Bent to carry back the money and arrange for Charlie’s burial, leaving Jo to guard the body: in an hour I was again with Bob and had told him everything. Ten days later we were in Kansas City where I was surprised by unexpected news.

My second brother Willie, six years older than I was, had come out to America and hearing of me in Kansas had located himself in Lawrence as a real-estate agent; he wrote asking me to join him. This quickened my determination to have nothing more to do with cowpunching. Cattle too, we found, had fallen in price and we were lucky to get ten dollars or so a head for our bunch which made a poor showing from the fact that the Indians had netted all the best. There was about six thousand dollars to divide: Jo got five hundred dollars and Bent, Bob, Charlie’s mother and myself divided the rest. Bob told me I was a fool: I should keep it all and go down south again: but what had I gained by my two years of cowpunching? I had lost money and caught malarial fever; I had won a certain knowledge of ordinary men and their way of living and had got more than a smattering of economics and of medicine, but I was filled with an infinite disgust for a merely physical life. What was I to do now? I’d see Willie and make up my mind.

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Chapter IX. STUDENT LIFE AND LOVE.

That railway journey to Lawrence, Kansas, is as vivid to me now as if it had taken place yesterday yet it all happened more than fifty years ago. It was a blazing hot day and in the seat opposite to me was an old grey-haired man who appeared to be much troubled by the heat: he moved about restlessly, mopped his forehead, took off his vest and finally went out probably to the open observation platform, leaving a couple of books on his seat. I took one of them up heedlessly—it was “The Life and Death of Jason”, by William Morris. I read a page or two, was surprised by the easy flow of the verse; but not gripped, so I picked up the other volume:—“Laus Veneris: Poems and Ballads” by Algernon Charles Swinburne. It opened at the Anactoria and in a moment, I was carried away entranced as no poetry before or since has ever entranced me. Venus, herself, spoke in the lines:

          “Alas! that neither rain nor snow nor dew
           Nor all cold things can purge me wholly through,
           Assuage me nor allay me, nor appease,
           Till supreme sleep shall bring me bloodless ease,
           Till Time wax faint in all her periods,
           Till Fate undo the bondage of the Gods
           To lay and slake and satiate me all through,
          Lotus and Lethe on my lips like dew,
          And shed around and over and under me
          Thick darkness and the insuperable sea.”

I haven’t seen the poem since and there may be verbal inaccuracies in my version; but the music and passion of the verses enthralled me and when I came to “The Leper”, the last stanzas brought hot tears to my eyes and in the “Garden of Proserpine”, I heard my own soul speaking with divine if hopeless assurance. Was there ever such poetry? Even the lighter verses were charming:

                    “Remembrance may recover
                     And time bring back to time
                     The name of your first lover,
                     The ring of my first rhyme:
                     But rose-leaves of December,
                     The storms of June shall fret;
                     The day that you remember,
                     The day that I forget.

And then the gay defiance:

                In the teeth of the glad salt weather,
                In the blown wet face of the sea;
                While three men hold together,
                Their Kingdoms are less by three.

And the divine songs to Hugo and to Whitman and the superb “Dedication”: the last verse of it a miracle:

            Though the many lights dwindle to one light,
            There is help if the Heavens have one;
            Though the stars be discrowned of the sunlight;
            And the earth dispossessed of the Sun:
            They have moonlight and sleep for repayment;
            When refreshed as a bride and set free;
            With stars and sea-winds in her raiment
            Night sinks on the sea.”

My very soul was taken: I had no need to read them twice: I’ve never seen them since: I shall not forget them so long as this machine lasts. They flooded my eyes with tears, my heart with passionate admiration. In this state the old gentlemen came back and found me, a cowboy to all appearance, lost, tear-drowned in Swinburne.

“I think that’s my book”, he said calling me back to dull reality. “Surely”, I replied bowing; “but what magnificent poetry and I never heard of Swinburne before.” “This is his first book I believe”, said the old gentleman, “but I’m glad you like his verses.” “Like”, I cried, “who could help adoring them!” and I let myself go to recite the Proserpine:

                   “From too much love of living,
                    From hope and fear set free,
                    We thank with brief thanksgiving
                    Whatever Gods may be
                    That no life lives forever,
                    That dead men rise up never,
                    That even the weariest river
                    Winds somewhere safe to sea.”

“Why you’ve learned it by heart!”, cried the old man in wonder; “learned”, I repeated, “I know half the book by heart: if you had stayed away another half hour, I’d have known it all” and I went on reciting for the next ten minutes.

“I never heard of such a thing in my life”, he cried: “fancy a cowboy who learns Swinburne by merely reading him. It’s astounding! Where are you going?” “To Lawrence,” I replied. “We’re almost there,” he added and then, “I wish you would let me give you the book. I can easily get another copy and I think it ought to be yours.”

I thanked him with all my heart and in a few minutes more got down at Lawrence station then as now far outside the little town clasping my Swinburne in my hand.

I record this story not to brag of my memory for all gifts are handicaps in life; but to show how kind Western Americans were to young folk and because the irresistible, unique appeal of Swinburne to youth has never been set forth before, so far as I know.

In a comfortable room at the Eldridge House, in the chief street of Lawrence, I met my brother: Willie seemed woefully surprised by my appearance: “You’re as yellow as a guinea; but how you’ve grown”, he cried. “You may be tall yet but you look ill, very ill!”

He was the picture of health and even better-looking than I had remembered him: a man of five feet ten or so with good figure and very handsome dark face: hair, small moustache and goatee beard jet black, straight thin nose and superb long hazel eyes with black lashes: he might have stood for the model of a Greek god were it not that his forehead was narrow and his eyes set close.

In three months he had become enthusiastically American, “America is the greatest country in the world”, he assured me from an abysmal ignorance; “any young man who works can make money here; if I had a little capital I’d be a rich man in a very few years; it’s some capital I need, nothing more.” Having drawn my story out of me especially the last phase when I divided up with the boys, he declared I must be mad. “With five thousand dollars”, he cried, “I could be rich in three years, a millionaire in ten. You must be mad; don’t you know that everyone is for himself in this world: good gracious! I never heard of such insanity: if I had only known!”

For some days I watched him closely and came to believe that he was perfectly suited to his surroundings, eminently fitted to succeed in them. He was an earnest Christian, I found, who had been converted and baptised in the Baptist Church; he had a fair tenor voice and led the choir; he swallowed all the idiocies of the incredible creed; but drew some valuable moral sanctions from it; he was a teetotaler and didn’t smoke; a Nazarene, too, determined to keep chaste as he called a state of abstinence from women, and weekly indulgence in self-abuse which he tried to justify as inevitable.

The teaching of Jesus himself had little or no practical effect on him; he classed it all together as counsels of an impossible perfection, and like the vast majority of Americans, accepted a childish Pauline-German morality while despising the duty of forgiveness and scorning the Gospel of Love.

A few days after our first meeting, Willie proposed to me that I should lend him a thousand dollars and he would give me twenty-five per cent for the use of the money. When I exclaimed against the usurious rate, twelve per cent being the State limit, he told me he could lend a million dollars if he had it, at from three to five per cent a month on perfect security. “So you see,” he wound up, “that I can easily afford to give you two hundred and fifty dollars a year for the use of your thousand: one can buy real estate here to pay fifty per cent a year; the country is only just beginning to be developed”, and so forth and so on in wildest optimism: the end of it being that he got my thousand dollars, leaving me with barely five hundred, but as I could live in a good boardinghouse for four dollars a week, I reckoned that at the worst I had one carefree year before me and if Willie kept his promise, I would be free to do whatever I wanted to do for years to come.

It was written that I was to have another experience in Lawrence much more important than anything to do with my brother. “Coming events cast their shadows before”, is a poetic proverb, singularly inept: great events arrive unheralded, were truer.

One evening I went to a political meeting at Liberty Hall near my hotel. Senator Ingalls was going to speak and a Congressman on the Granger movement, the first attempt of the Western farmers to react politically against the exploitation of Wall Street. The hall was packed: just behind me sat a man between two pretty grey-eyed girls. The man’s face attracted me even at first sight: I should be able to picture him for even as I write his face comes before me as vividly as if the many long years that separate us, were but the momentary closing of my eyes.

At the end of this chapter I reproduce a perfect portrait of him and need only add the coloring and expression: the large eyes were hazel and set far apart under the white, over-hanging brow; the hair and whiskers were chestnut-brown tinged with auburn; but it was the eyes that drew and fascinated me for they were luminous as no other eyes that I have ever seen; frank too, and kind, kind always.

But his dress, a black frock coat, with low stand-up white collar and a narrow black silk tie excited my snobbish English contempt. Both the girls, sisters evidently, were making up to him for all they were worth, or so it seemed to my jaundiced envious eyes.

Senator Ingalls made the usual kind of speech: the farmers were right to combine; but the money-lords were powerful and after all farmers and bankers alike were Americans:—Americans first and last and all the time! (great cheering!) The Congressman followed with the same brand of patriotic piffle and then cries arose from all parts of the hall for Professor Smith! I heard eager whispering behind me and turning half round guessed that the good-looking young man was Professor Smith for his two girl-admirers were persuading him to go on the platform and fascinate the audience.

In a little while he went up amid great applause; a good figure of a man, rather tall, about five feet ten, slight with broad shoulders. He began to speak in a thin tenor voice: “there was a manifest conflict of interests,” he said, “between the manufacturing Eastern States that demanded a high tariff on all imports and the farming West that wanted cheap goods and cheap rates of transport.

“In essence, it’s a mere matter of arithmetic, a mathematical problem, demanding a compromise; for every country should establish its own manufacturing industries and be self-supporting. The obvious reform was indicated; the Federal government should take over the railways and run them for the farmers, while competition among American manufacturers would ultimately reduce prices.”

No one in the hall seemed to understand this “obvious reform”; but the speech called forth a hurricane of cheers and I concluded that there were a great many students from the State University in the audience.

I don’t know what possessed me but when Smith returned to his seat behind me between the two girls and they praised him to the skies, I got up and walked to the platform. I was greeted with a tempest of laughter and must have cut a ludicrous figure. I was in cowpuncher’s dress as modified by Reece and Dell: I wore loose Bedford cord breeches, knee-high brown boots and a sort of buckskin shirt and jacket combined that tucked into my breeches. But rains and sun had worked their will on the buckskin which had shrunk down my neck and up my arms.

Spurred on by the laughter I went up the four steps to the platform and walked over to the Mayor who was Chairman:

“May I speak?” I asked:

“Sure”, he replied “your name?”

“My name is Harris,” I answered and the Mayor manifestly regarding me as a great joke announced that a Mr. Harris wished to address the meeting and he hoped the audience would give him a fair hearing even if his doctrines happened to be peculiar. As I faced them, the spectators shrieked with laughter: the house fairly rocked. I waited a full minute and then began: “How like Americans and Democrats”, I said, “to judge a man by the clothes he wears and the amount of hair he has on his face or the dollars in his jeans.”

There was instantaneous silence, the silence of surprise at least, and I went on to show what I had learned from Mill that open competition was the law of life, another name for the struggle for existence; that each country should concentrate its energies on producing the things it was best fitted to produce and trade these off against the products of other nations; this was the great economic law, the law of the territorial division of labor.

“Americans should produce corn and wheat and meat for the world”, I said, and exchange these products for the cheapest English woolen goods and French silks and Irish linen. This would enrich the American farmer, develop all the waste American land and be a thousand times better for the whole country than taxing all consumers with high import duties to enrich a few Eastern manufacturers who were too inefficient to face the open competition of Europe. “The American farmers,” I went on, “should organize with the laborers, for their interests are identical and fight the Eastern manufacturer who is nothing but a parasite living on the brains and work of better men.”

And then, I wound up: “this common sense program won’t please your Senators or your Congressmen who prefer cheap claptrap to thought, or your superfine Professors who believe the war of classes is ‘a mere arithmetical problem’ (and I imitated the Professor’s thin voice), but it may nevertheless be accepted by the American farmer tired of being milked by the Yankee manufacturer and it should stand as the first chapter in the new Granger gospel.”

I bowed to the Mayor and turned away but the audience broke into cheers and Senator Ingalls came over and shook my hand saying he hoped to know me better and the cheering went on till I had gotten back to my place and resumed my seat. A few minutes later and I was touched on the back by Professor Smith. As I turned round he said smiling “you gave me a good lesson: I’ll never make a public speaker and what I said doubtless sounded inconsequent and absurd; but if you’d have a talk with me, I think I could convince you that my theory will hold water.”

“I’ve no doubt you could,” I broke in, heartily ashamed of having made fun of a man I didn’t know; “I didn’t grasp your meaning but I’d be glad to have a talk with you.”

“Are you free tonight?” he went on: I nodded: “Then come with me to my rooms. These ladies live out of town and we’ll put them in their buggy and then be free. This is Mrs.… he added presenting me to the stouter lady and this, her sister, Miss Stevens.” I bowed and out we went, I keeping myself resolutely in the background till the sisters had driven away: then we set off together to Professor Smith’s rooms, for our talk.

If I could give a complete account of that talk, this poor page would glow with wonder and admiration all merged in loving reverence. We talked or rather Smith talked for I soon found he knew infinitely more than I did, was able indeed to label my creed as that of Mill, “a bourgeois English economist” he called him with smiling disdain.

Ever memorable to me, sacred indeed, that first talk with the man who was destined to reshape my life and inspire it with some of his own high purpose. He introduced me to the communism of Marx and Engels and easily convinced me that land and its products, coal and oil, should belong to the whole community which should also manage all industries for the public benefit.

My breath was taken by his mere statement of the case and I thrilled to the passion in his voice and manner though even then I wasn’t wholly convinced. Whatever topic we touched on, he illumined; he knew everything, it seemed to me, German and French and could talk Latin and Classic Greek as fluently as English. I had never imagined such scholarship and when I recited some verses of Swinburne as expressing my creed he knew them too and his Pantheistic Hymn to Hertha, as well. And he wore his knowledge lightly as the mere garment of his shining spirit! And how handsome he was, like a Sun-god! I had never seen anyone who could at all compare with him.

Day had dawned before we had done talking: then he told me he was the Professor of Greek in the State University and hoped I would come and study with him when the schools opened again in October. “To think of you as a cowboy” he said, “is impossible. Fancy a cowboy knowing books of Vergil and poems of Swinburne by heart; it’s absurd: you must give your brains a chance and study.”

“I’ve too little money” I said, beginning to regret my loan to my brother.

“I told you I am a Socialist,” Smith retorted smiling: “I have three or four thousand dollars in the Bank, take half of it and come to study” and his luminous eyes held me: then it was true, after all; my heart swelled, jubilant, there were noble souls in this world who took little thought of money and lived for better things than gold.

“I won’t take your money”, I said, with tears burning: “every herring should hang by its own head in these democratic days; but if you think enough of me to offer such help, I’ll promise to come though I fear you’ll be disappointed when you find how little I know; how ignorant I am. I’ve not been in school since I was fourteen.”

“Come, we’ll soon make up the time lost” he said. “By the bye where are you staying?” “The Eldridge House,” I replied.

He brought me to the door and we parted; as I turned to go I saw the tall slight figure and the radiant eyes and I went away into a new world that was the old, feeling as if I were treading on air.

Once more my eyes had been opened as on Overton Bridge to the beauties of nature; but now to the splendor of an unique spirit. What luck! I cried to myself to meet such a man! It really seemed to me as if some God were following me with divine gifts!

And then the thought came: This man has chosen and called you very much as Jesus called his disciples:—_Come, and I will make you fishers of men!_ Already I was dedicate heart and soul to the new Gospel.

But even that meeting with Smith, wherein I reached the topmost height of golden hours, was set off, so to speak, by another happening of this wonder-week. At the next table to me in the dining-room I had already remarked once or twice a little, middle-aged, weary looking man who often began his breakfast with a glass of boiling water and followed it up with a baked apple drowned in rich cream. Brains, too, or sweetbreads he would eat for dinner and rice, not potatoes: when I looked surprise, he told me he had been up all night and had a weak digestion, Mayhew, he said, was his name and explained that if I ever wanted a game of faro or euchre or indeed anything else, he’d oblige me. I smiled; I could ride and shoot, I replied; but I was no good at cards.

The day after my talk with Smith, Mayhew and I were both late for supper: I sat long over a good meal and as he rose, he asked me if I would come across the street and see his “lay-out!” I went willingly enough, having nothing to do. The gambling saloon was on the first floor of a building nearly opposite the Eldridge House: the place was well-kept and neat, thanks to a colored bar-tender and colored waiter and a nigger of all work. The long room too was comfortably furnished and very brightly lit—altogether an attractive place.

As luck would have it, while he was showing me round, a lady came in; Mayhew after a word or two introduced me to her as his wife: Mrs. Mayhew was then a woman of perhaps twenty-eight or thirty, with tall, lissom slight figure and interesting rather than pretty face: her features were all good, her eyes even were large and blue-gray: she would have been lovely if her coloring had been more pronounced: give her golden hair or red or black and she would have been a beauty: she was always tastefully dressed and had appealing, ingratiating manners. I soon found that she loved books and reading and as Mayhew said he was going to be busy, I asked if I might see her home. She consented smiling and away we went. She lived in a pretty frame house standing alone in a street that ran parallel to Massachusetts Street, nearly opposite to a large and ugly church.

As she went up the steps to the door, I noticed that she had fine, neat ankles and I divined shapely limbs. While she was taking off her light cloak and hat, the lifting of her arms stretched her bodice and showed small round breasts: already my blood was lava and my mouth parched with desire.

“You look at me strangely!” she said swinging round from the long mirror with a challenge on her parted lips. I made some inane remark: I couldn’t trust myself to speak frankly; but natural sympathy drew us together. I told her I was going to be a student and she wanted to know whether I could dance: I told her I could not, and she promised to teach me: “Lily Robins, a neighbor’s girl, will play for us any afternoon. Do you know the steps?” she went on and when I said “No”: she got up from the sofa, held up her dress and showed me the three polka steps which she said were the waltz steps too, only taken on a glide. “What pretty ankles! you have”, I ventured; but she appeared not to hear me. We sat on and on and I learned that she was very lonely: Mr. Mayhew away every night and nearly all day and nothing to do in that little dead-and-alive place. “Will you let me come in for a talk sometimes?” I asked: “Whenever you wish”, was her answer. As I rose to go and we were standing opposite to each other by the door, I said: “You know, Mrs. Mayhew, in Europe when a man brings a pretty woman home, she rewards him with a kiss—”

“Really?” she scoffed, smiling, “That’s not a custom here.”

“Are you less generous than they are?” I asked and the next moment I had taken her face in my hands and kissed her on the lips. She put her hands on my shoulders and left her eyes on mine: “We’re going to be friends”, she said, “I felt it when I saw you: don’t stay away too long!”

“Will you see me tomorrow afternoon?” I asked: “I want that dance lesson!” “Surely” she replied, “I’ll tell Lily in the morning.” And once more our hands met: I tried to draw her to me for another kiss; but she held back with a smiling—“tomorrow afternoon!” “Tell me your name”, I begged, “so that I may think of it.” “Lorna” she replied, “you funny boy!” and I went my way with pulses hammering, blood aflame and hope in my heart.

Next morning I called again upon Smith; but the pretty servant, “Rose”, she said her name was, told me that he was nearly always out at Judge Stevens’ “five or six miles out,” she thought it was; “they always come for him in a buggy”, she added. So I said I’d write and make an appointment and I did write and asked him to let me see him next morning.

That same morning Willie recommended to me a pension kept by a Mrs. Gregory, an Englishwoman, the wife of an old Baptist clergyman, who would take good care of me for four dollars a week. Immediately I went with him to see her and was delighted to find that she lived only about a hundred yards from Mrs. Mayhew on the opposite side of the street. Mrs. Gregory was a large, motherly woman evidently a lady, who had founded this boardinghouse to provide for a rather feckless husband and two children, a big pretty girl, Kate and a lad, a couple of years younger. Mrs. Gregory was delighted with my English accent, I believe, and showed me special favor at once by giving me a large outside room with its own entrance and steps into the garden.

In an hour I had paid my bill at the Eldridge House and had moved in: I showed a shred of prudence by making Willie promise Mrs. Gregory that he would turn up each Saturday with the five dollars for my board; the dollar extra was for the big room.

In due course I shall tell how he kept his promise and discharged his debt to me. For the moment everything was easily, happily settled. I went out and ordered a decent suit of ordinary tweeds and dressed myself up in my best blue suit to call upon Mrs. Mayhew after lunch. The clock crawled but on the stroke of three, I was at her door: a colored maid admitted me.

“Mrs. Mayhew”, she said in her pretty singing voice, “will be down right soon: I’ll go call Miss Lily.”

In five minutes Miss Lily appeared, a dark slip of a girl with shining black hair, wide laughing mouth, temperamental thick red lips and grey eyes fringed with black lashes: she had hardly time to speak to me when Mrs. Mayhew came in: “I hope you two’ll be great friends”, she said prettily; “you’re both about the same age” she added.

In a few minutes Miss Lily was playing a waltz on the Steinway and with my arm round the slight, flexible waist of my inamorata I was trying to waltz. But alas! after a turn or two I became giddy and in spite of all my resolution had to admit that I should never be able to dance.

“You have got very pale”, Mrs. Mayhew said, “you must sit down on the sofa a little while.” Slowly the giddiness left me: before I had entirely recovered Miss Lily with kindly words of sympathy had gone home and Mrs. Mayhew brought me in a cup of excellent coffee: I drank it down and was well at once.

“You should go in and lie down”, said Mrs. Mayhew still full of pity, “see” and she opened a door, “there’s the guest bedroom all ready.” I saw my chance and went over to her: “if you’d come too”, I whispered and then, “the coffee has made me quite well: won’t you, Lorna, give me a kiss? You don’t know how often I said your name last night, you dear!” and in a moment I had again taken her face and put my lips on hers. She gave me her lips this time and my kiss became a caress; but in a little while she drew away and said, “let’s sit and talk, I want to know all you are doing.” So I seated myself beside her on the sofa and told her all my news. She thought I would be comfortable with the Gregorys. “Mrs. Gregory is a good woman”, she added, “and I hear the girl’s engaged to a cousin: do you think her pretty?”

“I think no one pretty but you, Lorna”, I said and I pressed her head down on the arm of the sofa and kissed her. Her lips grew hot: I was certain. At once I put my hand down on her sex; she struggled a little at first, which I took care should bring our bodies closer and when she ceased struggling I put my hands up her dress and began caressing her sex: it was hot and wet, as I knew it would be, and opened readily.

But in another moment she took the lead: “Some one might find us here,” she whispered, “I’ve let the maid go: come up to my bedroom” and she took me upstairs. I begged her to undress: I wanted to see her figure; but she only said, “I have no corsets on, I don’t often wear them in the house. Are you sure you love me, dear?” “You know I do!” was my answer. The next moment I lifted her on to the bed, drew up her clothes, opened her legs and was in her. There was no difficulty and in a moment or two I came; but went right on poking passionately; in a few minutes her breath went and came quickly and her eyes fluttered and she met my thrusts with sighs and nippings of her sex. My second orgasm took some time and all the while Lorna became more and more responsive, till suddenly she put her hands on my bottom and drew me to her forcibly while she moved her sex up and down awkwardly to meet my thrusts with a passion I had hardly imagined. Again and again I came and the longer the play lasted, the wilder was her excitement and delight. She kissed me hotly foraging and thrusting her tongue into my mouth. Finally she pulled up her chemise to get me further into her and at length with little sobs she suddenly got hysterical and panting wildly, burst into a storm of tears.

That stopped me: I withdrew my sex and took her in my arms and kissed her; at first she clung to me with choking sighs and streaming eyes, but as soon as she had won a little control, I went to the toilette and brought her a sponge of cold water and bathed her face and gave her some water to drink—that quieted her. But she would not let me leave her even to arrange my clothes.

“Oh, you great, strong dear,” she cried, with her arms clasping me, “oh, who would have believed such intense pleasure possible: I never felt anything like it before: how could you keep on so long! Oh, how I love you, you wonder and delight!

“I am all yours,” she added gravely, “you shall do what you like with me: I am your mistress, your slave, your plaything and you are my God and my love! Oh, Darling! oh!”

There was a pause while I smiled at her extravagant praise, then suddenly she sat up and got out of bed: “You wanted to see my figure”, she exclaimed, “here it is, I can deny you nothing; I only hope it may please you” and in a moment or two she showed herself nude from head to stocking.

As I had guessed, her figure was slight and lissom, with narrow hips but she had a great bush of hair on her Mount of Venus and her breasts were not so round and firm as Jessie’s: still she was very pretty and well-formed with the _fines attaches_ (slender wrists and ankles) which the French are so apt to over-estimate. They think that small bones indicate a small sex; but I have found that the exceptions are very numerous, even if there is any such rule.

After I had kissed her breasts and navel, and praised her figure, she disappeared in the bathroom but was soon with me again on the sofa which we had left an hour or so before.

“Do you know” she began, “my husband assured me that only the strongest young man could go twice with a woman in one day? I believed him; aren’t we women fools? You must have come a dozen times?”

“Not half that number”, I replied smiling.

“Aren’t you tired?” was her next question, “even I have a little headache” she added: “I never was so wrought up: at the end it was too intense: but you must be tired out.” “No,” I replied, “I feel no fatigue, indeed I feel the better for our joy ride!”

“But surely you’re an exception?” she went on; “most men have finished in one short spasm and leave the woman utterly unsatisfied, just excited and no more.”

“Youth”, I said, “that, I believe, makes the chief difference.”

“Is there any danger of a child?” she went on, “I ought to say ‘hope’,” she added bitterly, “for I’d love to have a child, your child” and she kissed me.

“When were you ill last?” I asked.

“About a fortnight ago”, she replied, “I often thought that had something to do with it.”

“Why?” I asked: “tell truth!” I warned her and she began: “I’ll tell you anything; I thought the time had something to do with it for soon after I am well each month my ‘pussy’ that’s what we call it, often burns and itches intolerably; but after a week or so I’m not bothered any more till next time. Why is that?” she added.

“Two things I ought to explain to you” I said, “your seed is brought down into your womb by the menstrual blood: it lives there a week or ten days and then dies and with its death your desires decrease and the chance of impregnation. But near the next monthly period, say within three days, there is a double danger again; for the excitement may bring your seed down before the usual time and in any case, my seed will live in your womb about three days, so if you wish to avoid pregnancy, wait for ten days after your monthly flow is finished and stop say four days before you expect it again, then the danger of getting a child is very slight.”

“Oh, you wise boy!” she laughed, “don’t you see you are skipping the time I most desire you, and that’s not kind to either of us; is it?”

“There’s still another way of evasion”, I said, “get me to withdraw before I come the first time, or get up immediately and syringe yourself with water thoroughly: water kills my seed as soon as it touches it—”

“But how will that help if you go on half a dozen times more?” she asked.

“Doctors say,” I replied, “that what comes from me afterwards is not virile enough to impregnate a woman: I’ll explain the process to you if you like; but you can take it, the fact is as I state it.”

“When did you learn all this?” she asked.

“It has been my most engrossing study,” I laughed, “and by far the most pleasureful!”

“You dear, dear,” she cried, “I must kiss you for that.”

“Do you know you kiss wonderfully?” she went on reflectingly, “with a lingering touch of the inside of the lips and then the thrust of the tongue: that’s what excited me so the first time” and she sighed as if delighted with the memory.

“You didn’t seem excited,” I said half reproachfully, “for when I wanted another kiss, you drew away and said ‘tomorrow’! Why are women so coquettish, so perverse?” I added, remembering Lucille and Jessie.

“I think it is that we wish to be sure of being desired,” she replied, “and a little too that we want to prolong the joy of it, the delight of being wanted, really wanted! It is so easy for us to give and so exquisite to feel a man’s desire pursuing us! Ah how rare it is”, she sighed passionately, “and how quickly lost! You’ll soon tire of your mistress”, she added, “now that I am all yours and thrill only for you” and she took my head in her hands and kissed me passionately, regretfully.

“You kiss better than I do, Lorna! Where did you acquire the art, Madame?” I asked, “I fear that you have been a naughty, naughty girl!”

“If you only knew the truth,” she exclaimed, “if you only knew how girls long for a lover and burn and itch in vain and wonder why men are so stupid and cold and dull as not to see our desire.

“Don’t we try all sorts of tricks? Aren’t we haughty and withdrawn at one moment and affectionate, tender, loving at another? Don’t we conceal the hook with every sort of bait only to watch the fish sniff at it and turn away. Ah, if you knew—I feel a traitor to my sex even in telling you—if you guessed how we angle for you and how clever we are, how full of wiles! There’s an expression I once heard my husband use which describes us women exactly or nine out of ten of us. I wanted to know how he kept the office warm all night: he said, we damp down the furnaces and explained the process: that’s it, I cried to myself, I’m a damped-down furnace: that’s surely why I keep hot so long! Did you imagine”, she asked, turning her flower-face all pale with passion half aside, “that I took off my hat that first day before the glass and turned slowly round with it held above my head, by chance? You dear innocent! I knew the movement would show my breasts and slim hips and did it deliberately hoping it would excite you and how I thrilled when I saw it did.

“Why did I show you the bed in that room?” she added, “and leave the door ajar when I came back here to the sofa, but to tempt you and how heart-glad I was to feel your desire in your kiss. I was giving myself before you pushed my head back on the sofa-arm and disarranged all my hair!” she added pouting and patting it with her hands to make sure it was in order.

[Illustration]

“You were astonishingly masterful and quick,” she went on: “how did you know that I wished you to touch me then! Most men would have gone on kissing and fooling, afraid to act decisively. You must have had a lot of experience? You naughty lad!”

“Shall I tell you the truth!” I said, “I will, just to encourage you to be frank with me. You are the first woman I have ever spent my seed in or had properly—”

“Call it improperly, for God’s sake,” she cried laughing aloud with joy, “you darling virgin, you! Oh! how I wish I was sixteen again and you were my first lover. You would have made me believe in God. Yet you are my first lover”, she added quickly, “I have only learned the delight and ecstasy of love in your arms—”

Our love-talk lasted for hours till suddenly I guessed it was late and looked at my watch; it was nearly seven-thirty: I was late for supper which started at half-past six!

“I must go,” I exclaimed, “or I’ll get nothing to eat.”

“I could give you supper,” she added, “my lips too, that long for you and—and—but you know” she added regretfully, “he might come in and I want to know you better first before seeing you together: a young God and a man!—and the man in God’s likeness, yet so poor an imitation!”

“Don’t, don’t,” I said, “you’ll make life harder for yourself—”

“Harder” she repeated with a sniff of contempt, “Kiss me, my love and go if you must. Shall I see you tomorrow? There!” she cried as with a curse, “I’ve given myself away: I can’t help it, oh how I want you always: how I shall long for you and count the dull dreary hours! Go, go or I’ll never let you”—and she kissed and clung to me to the door.

“Sweet—tomorrow”, I said and tore off.

Of course it is manifest that my liaison with Mrs. Mayhew had little or nothing to do with love. It was demoniac youthful sex-urge in me and much the same hunger in her and as soon as the desire was satisfied my judgment of her was as impartial, cool as if she had always been indifferent to me. But with her I think there was a certain attachment and considerable tenderness. In intimate relations between the sexes it is rare indeed that the man gives as much to love as the woman.

[Illustration:

 _Professor Byron. C. Smith: 1872._

]




Chapter X.SOME STUDY, MORE LOVE.

Supper at the Gregory’s was almost over when I entered the dining-room: Kate and her mother and father and the boy Tommy were seated at the end of the table, taking their meal: the dozen guests had all finished and disappeared. Mrs. Gregory hastened to rise and Kate got up to follow her mother into the neighbouring kitchen.

“Please don’t get up!” I cried to the girl, “I’d never forgive myself for interrupting you: I’ll wait on myself or on you”, I added smiling, “if you wish anything—”

She looked at me with hard, indifferent eyes and sniffed scornfully: “If you’ll sit there”, she said, pointing to the other end of the table, “I’ll bring you supper: do you take coffee or tea?”

“Coffee, please,” I answered and took the seat indicated, at once making up my mind to be cold to her while winning the others. Soon the boy began asking me had I ever seen any Indians—“in warpaint and armed, I mean” he added eagerly.

“Yes and shot at them, too”, I replied smiling. Tommy’s eyes gleamed—“Oh tell us!” he panted and I knew I could always count on one good listener!

“I’ve lots to tell, Tommy,” I said, “but now I must eat my supper at express rate or your sister’ll be angry—” I added as Kate came in with some steaming food: she pulled a face and shrugged her shoulders with contempt.

“Where do you preach?” I asked the grey-haired father, “my brother says you’re really eloquent—”

“Never eloquent,” he replied deprecatingly, “but sometimes very earnest perhaps, especially when some event of the day comes to point the Gospel story—” he talked like a man of fair education and I could see he was pleased at being drawn to the front.

Then Kate brought me fresh coffee and Mrs. Gregory came in and continued her meal and the talk became interesting, thanks to Mr. Gregory who couldn’t help saying how the fire in Chicago had stimulated Christianity in his hearers and given him a great text. I mentioned casually that I had been in the fire and told of Randolph Street Bridge and the hanging and what else I saw there and on the lakefront that unforgettable Monday morning.

At first Kate went in and out of the room removing dishes as if she were not concerned in the story, but when I told of the women and girls half-naked at the lakeside while the flames behind us reached the zenith in a red sheet that kept throwing flame-arrows ahead and started the ships burning on the water in front of us, she too stopped to listen.

At once I caught my cue, to be liked and admired by all the rest; but indifferent, cold to her. So I rose as if her standing enthralled had interrupted me and said:

“I’m sorry to keep you: I’ve talked too much, forgive me!” and betook myself to my room in spite of the protests and prayers to continue of all the rest. Kate just flushed; but said nothing.

She attracted me greatly: she was infinitely desirable, very good-looking and very young (only sixteen, her mother said later) and her great hazel eyes were almost as exciting as her pretty mouth or large hips and good height. She pleased me intimately but I resolved to win her altogether and felt I had begun well: at any rate she would think about me and my coldness.

I spent the evening in putting out my half dozen books, not forgetting my medical treatises, and then slept, the deep sleep of sex recuperation.

The next morning I called on Smith again where he lived with the Reverend Mr. Kellogg, who was the Professor of English History in the University, Smith said. Kellogg was a man of about forty, stout and well-kept, with a faded wife of about the same age. Rose, the pretty servant, let me in: I had a smile and warm word of thanks for her: she was astonishingly pretty, the prettiest girl I had seen in Lawrence: medium height and figure with quite lovely face and an exquisite rose-leaf skin! She smiled at me; evidently my admiration pleased her.

Smith, I found, had got books for me, Latin and Greek-English dictionaries, a Tacitus too and Xenophon’s Memorabilia with a Greek grammar: I insisted on paying for them all and then he began to talk. Tacitus he just praised for his superb phrases and the great portrait of Tiberius—“perhaps the greatest historical portrait ever painted in words.” I had a sort of picture of King Edward the Fourth in my romantic head, but didn’t venture to trot it out. But soon, Smith passed to Xenophon and his portrait of Socrates as compared with that of Plato. I listened all ears while he read out a passage from Xenophon, painting Socrates with little human touches: I got him to translate every word literally and had a great lesson, resolving when I got home, I’d learn the whole page by heart. Smith was more than kind to me: he said I’d be able to enter the Junior Class and thus have only two years to graduation. If Willie gave me back even five hundred dollars, I’d be able to get through without care or work.

Then Smith told me how he had gone to Germany after his American University: how he had studied there and then worked in Athens at ancient Greek for another year till he could talk classic Greek as easily as German. “There were a few dozen Professors and students” he said, “who met regularly and talked nothing but classic Greek: they were always trying to make the modern tongue just like the old.” He gave me a translation of “Das Kapital” of Marx, and in fifty ways inspired and inspirited me to renewed effort.

I came back to the Gregorys for dinner and discussed in my own mind whether I should go to Mrs. Mayhew’s as I had promised or work at Greek: I decided to work and then and there made a vow always to prefer work, a vow more honored in the breach, I fear, than in the observance. But at least I wrote to Mrs. Mayhew excusing myself and promising her the next afternoon. Then I set myself to learn by heart the two pages in the “Memorabilia.”

That evening I sat near the end of the table; the head of it was taken by the University Professor of Physics, a dull pedant!

Every time Kate came near me I was ceremoniously polite: “Thank you very much! It is very kind of you!” and not a word more. As soon as I could, I went to my room to work.

Next day at three o’clock I knocked at Mrs. Mayhew’s: she opened the door herself: I cried, “how kind of you” and once in the room drew her to me and kissed her time and time again: she seemed cold and numb.

For some moments she didn’t speak, then: “I feel as if I had passed through fever”, she said, putting her hands through her hair, lifting it in a gesture I was to know well in the days to come: “Never promise again if you don’t come: I thought I should go mad: waiting is a horrible torture! Who kept you?—some girl?” and her eyes searched mine.

I excused myself; but her intensity chilled me. At the risk of alienating my girl-readers, I must confess this was the effect her passion had on me. When I kissed her, her lips were cold. But by the time we had got upstairs, she had thawed: she shut the door after us gravely and began: “See how ready I am for you!” and in a moment she had thrown back her robe and stood before me naked: she tossed the garment on a chair; it fell on the floor: she stooped to pick it up with her bottom to me: I kissed her soft bottom and caught her up by it with my hand on her sex. She turned her head over her shoulder:

“I’ve washed and scented myself for you, Sir: how do you like the perfume? and how do you like this bush of hair?” and she touched her Mount with a grimace; “I was so ashamed of it as a girl: I used to shave it off: that’s what made it grow so thick, I believe: one day my mother saw it and made me stop shaving; oh, how ashamed of it I was: it’s animal, ugly:—don’t you hate it? Oh! tell the truth!” she cried, “or rather, don’t; tell me you love it.”

“I love it,” I exclaimed, “because it’s yours!” “Oh you dear lover,” she smiled, “you always find the right word, the flattering salve for the sore!”

“Are you ready for me?” I asked, “ripe-ready or shall I kiss you first and caress pussy?”

“Whatever you do, will be right,” she said, “you know I am rotten-ripe, soft and wet for you always!”

All this while I was taking off my clothes: now I too was naked.

“I want you to draw up your knees,” I said: “I want to see the Holy of Holies, the shrine of my idolatry.”

At once she did as I asked. Her legs and bottom were well-shaped without being statuesque; but her clitoris was much more than the average button: it stuck out fully half an inch and the inner lips of her vulva hung down a little below the outer lips. I knew I should see prettier pussies. Kate’s was better shaped, I felt sure, and the heavy, madder-brown lips put me off a little.

The next moment I began caressing her red clitoris with my hot, stiff organ: Lorna sighed deeply once or twice and her eyes turned up; slowly I pushed my prick in to the full and drew it out again to the lips, then in again and I felt her warm love-juice gush as she drew up her knees even higher to let me further in: “Oh, it’s divine”, she sighed, “better even than the first time”, and when my thrusts grew quick and hard as the orgasm shook me, she writhed down on my prick as I withdrew, as if she would hold it, and as my seed spirted into her, she bit my shoulder and held her legs tight as if to keep my sex in her. We lay a few moments bathed in bliss. Then as I began to move again to sharpen the sensation, she half rose on her arm: “Do you know”, she said, “I dreamed yesterday of getting on you and doing it to you: do you mind, if I try—” “No, indeed!” I cried, “go to it: I am your prey!” She got up smiling and straddled kneeling across me and put my cock into her pussy and sank down on me with a deep sigh. She tried to move up and down on my organ and at once came up too high and had to use her hand to put my Tommy in again; then she sank down on it as far as possible: “I can sink down all right”, she cried smiling at the double meaning, “but I cannot rise so well! What fools we women are, we can’t master even the act of love; we are so awkward!”

“Your awkwardness, however, excites me,” I said.

“Does it?” she cried, “then I’ll do my best”, and for some time she rose and sank rhythmically; but as her excitement grew, she just let herself lie on me and wiggled her bottom till we both came. She was flushed and hot and I couldn’t help asking her a question:

“Does your excitement grow to a spasm of pleasure?” I asked, “or do you go on getting more and more excited continually?”

“I get more and more excited,” she said, “till the other day with you for the first time in my life the pleasure became unbearably intense and I was hysterical, you wonder-lover!”

Since then I have read lascivious books in half a dozen languages and they all represent women coming to an orgasm in the act, as men do, followed by a period of content: which only shows that the books are all written by men and ignorant, insensitive men at that. The truth is hardly one married woman in a thousand is ever brought to her highest pitch of feeling: usually, just when she begins to feel, her husband goes to sleep. If the majority of husbands satisfied their wives occasionally, the Woman’s Revolt would soon move to another purpose: women want above all a lover who loves to excite them to the top of their bent. As a rule men through economic conditions marry so late that they have already half exhausted their virile power before they marry. And when they marry young they are so ignorant and so self-centered that they imagine their wives must be satisfied when they are. Mrs. Mayhew told me that her husband had never excited her really. She denied that she had ever had any acute pleasure from his embraces.

“Shall I make you hysterical again?” I asked, out of boyish vanity, “I can, you know!”

“You mustn’t tire yourself!” she warned, “my husband taught me long ago that when a woman tires a man, he gets a distaste for her and I want your love, your desire, dear, a thousand times more even that the delight you give me—”

“Don’t be afraid”, I broke in, “you are sweet, you couldn’t tire me: turn sideways and put your left leg up, and I’ll just let my sex caress your clitoris back and forth gently; every now and then I’ll let it go right in until our hairs meet.” I kept on this game perhaps half an hour until she first sighed and sighed and then made awkward movements with her pussy which I sought to divine and meet as she wished when suddenly she cried:

“Oh! Oh! hurt me, please! hurt me, or I’ll bite you! Oh God, oh, oh”—panting, breathless till again the tears poured down!

“You darling!” she sobbed, “how you can love! Could you go on forever?”

For answer I put her hand on my sex: “Just as naughty as ever”, she exclaimed, “and I am choking, breathless, exhausted! Oh, I’m sorry”, she went on, “but we should get up, for I don’t want my help to know or guess: niggers talk—”

I got up and went to the windows; one gave on the porch but the other directly on the garden. “What are you looking at?” she asked coming to me. “I was just looking for the best way to get out if ever we were surprised”, I said, “if we leave this window open I can always drop into the garden and get away quickly.”

“You would hurt yourself”, she cried.

“Not a bit of it”, I answered, “I could drop half as far again without injury, the only thing is, I must have boots on and trousers, or those thorns of yours would give me gip!.” … “You boy”, she exclaimed laughing: “I think after your strength and passion, it is your boyishness I love best”—and she kissed me again and again.

“I must work”, I warned her, “Smith has given me a lot to do.” “Oh, my dear”, she said, her eyes filling with tears, “that means you won’t come tomorrow or”, she added hastily, “even the day after?”

“I can’t possibly”, I declared, “I have a good week’s work in front of me; but you know I’ll come the first afternoon I can make myself free and I’ll let you know the day before, sweet!” She looked at me with tearful eyes and quivering lips: “love is its own torment!” she sighed while I dressed and got away quickly.

The truth was I was already satiated: her passion held nothing new in it: she had taught me all she could and had nothing more in her, I thought; while Kate was prettier and much younger and a virgin. Why shouldn’t I confess it? It was Kate’s virginity attracted me irresistibly: I pictured her legs to myself, her hips and thighs and her sex: she wouldn’t have a harsh bush of hairs; already I felt the silken softness of her triangle: would it be brown or have strands of gold in it like her hair?

The next few days passed in reading the book Smith had lent me, especially “Das Kapital”, the second book of which, with its frank exposure of the English factory system, was simply enthralling: I read some of Tacitus, too, and Xenophon with a crib and learned a page of Greek every day by heart, and whenever I felt tired of work, I laid siege to Kate. That is, I continued my plan of campaign: one day I called her brother into my room and told him true stories of buffalo hunting and of fighting with Indians; another day I talked theology with the father or drew the dear mother out to tell of her girlish days in Cornwall: “I never thought I’d come down to work like this in my old age; but then children take all and give little; I was no better as a girl; I remember”—and I got a scene of her brief courtship!

I had won the whole household long before I said a word to Kate beyond the merest courtesies. A week or so passed like this till one day I held them all after dinner while I told the story of our raid into Mexico. I took care, of course, that Kate was out of the room. Towards the end of my tale, Kate came in: at once I hastened to the end abruptly and after excusing myself, went into the garden.

Half an hour later I saw she was in my room tidying up; I took thought and then went up the outside steps. As soon as I saw her, I pretended surprise: “I beg your pardon”, I said, “I’ll just get a book and go at once; please don’t let me disturb you!” and I pretended to look for the book.

She turned sharply and looked at me fixedly: “Why do you treat me like this?” she burst out, shaking with indignation.

“Like what?” I repeated, pretending surprise. “You know quite well”, she went on angrily, hastily: “at first I thought it was chance, unintentional; now I know you mean it. Whenever you’re talking or telling a story, as soon as I come into the room you stop and hurry away as if you hated me. Why? Why?” she cried with quivering lips, “What have I done to make you dislike me so?” and the tears gathered in her lovely eyes.

I felt the moment had come: I put my hands on her shoulders and looked with my whole soul into her eyes: “Did you never guess, Kate, that it might be love, not hate?” I asked.

“No, no!” she cried, the tears falling, “love doesn’t act like that!”

“Fear to miss love does, I can assure you”, I cried, “I thought at first that you disliked me and already I had begun to care for you”, (my arms went round her waist and I drew her to me) “to love you and want you. Kiss me, dear” and at once she gave me her lips while my hand got busy on her breasts and then went down of itself to her sex. Suddenly she looked at me gaily, brightly while heaving a big sigh of relief. “I’m glad, glad!” she said, “if you only knew how hurt I was and how I tortured myself; one moment I was angry, then I was sad. Yesterday I made up my mind to speak, but today I said to myself, I’ll just be obstinate and cold as he is and now”—and of her own accord she put her arms round my neck and kissed me, “you are a dear, dear! Anyway, I love you!”

“You mustn’t give me those bird-pecks!” I exclaimed, “those are not kisses: I want your lips to open and cling to mine” and I kissed her while my tongue darted into her mouth and I stroked her sex gently. She flushed, but at first didn’t understand, then suddenly she blushed rosy red as her lips grew hot and she fairly ran from the room.

I exulted: I knew I had won: I must be very quiet and reserved and the bird would come to the lure; I felt exultingly certain!

Meanwhile I spent nearly every morning with Smith: golden hours! Always, always before we parted, he showed me some new beauty or revealed some new truth: he seemed to me the most wonderful creature in this strange, sunlit world. I used to hang entranced on his eloquent lips! (Strange! I was sixty-five before I found such a hero-worshipper as I was to Smith, who was then only four or five and twenty!) He made me know all the Greek dramatists: Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides and put them for me in a truer light than English or German scholars have set them yet. He knew that Sophocles was the greatest and from his lips I learned every chorus in the Oedipus Rex and Colonos before I had completely mastered the Greek grammar; indeed, it was the supreme beauty of the literature that forced me to learn the language. In teaching me the choruses, he was careful to point out that it was possible to keep the measure and yet mark the accent too: in fact, he made classic Greek a living language to me, as living as English. And he would not let me neglect Latin: in the first year with him I knew poems of Catullus by heart, almost as well as I knew Swinburne. Thanks to Professor Smith I had no difficulty in entering the Junior Class at the University; in fact, after my first three or four months’ work I was easily the first in the class, which included Ned Stevens, the brother of Smith’s inamorata. I soon discovered that Smith was heels over head in love with Kate Stevens, shot through the heart as Mercutio would say, with a fair girl’s blue eye!

And small wonder, for Kate was lovely; a little above middle height with slight, rounded figure and most attractive face: the oval, a thought long, rather than round, with dainty, perfect features, lit up by a pair of superlative grey-blue eyes, eyes by turns delightful and reflective and appealing that mirrored a really extraordinary intelligence. She was in the Senior Class and afterwards for years held the position of Professor of Greek in the University. I shall have something to say of her in a later volume of this history, for I met her again in New York nearly fifty years later. But in 1872 or ’73, her brother Ned, a handsome lad of eighteen who was in my class, interested me more. The only other member of the Senior Class of that time was a fine fellow, Ned Bancroft, who later came to France with me to study.

At this time, curiously enough, Kate Stevens was by way of being engaged to Ned Bancroft; but already it was plain that she was in love with Smith and my outspoken admiration of Smith helped her, I hope, as I am sure it helped him, to a better mutual understanding. Bancroft accepted the situation with extraordinary self-sacrifice, losing neither Smith’s nor Kate’s friendship: I have seldom seen nobler self-abnegation: indeed his high-mindedness in this crisis was what first won my admiration and showed me his other fine qualities.

Almost in the beginning I had serious disquietude: every little while Smith was ill and had to keep his bed for a day or two. There was no explanation of this illness which puzzled me and caused me a certain anxiety.

One day in mid-winter there was a new development. Smith was in doubt how to act and confided in me. He had found Professor Kellogg, in whose house he lived, trying to kiss the pretty help, Rose, entirely against her will: Smith was emphatic on this point, the girl was struggling angrily to free herself, when by chance he interrupted them.

I relieved Smith’s solemn gravity a little by roaring with laughter: the idea of an old Professor and clergyman trying to win a young girl by force filled me with amusement: “What a fool the man must be!” was my English judgment; Smith took the American high moral tone at first.

“Think of his disloyalty to his wife in the same house”, he cried, “and then the scandal if the girl talked and she’s sure to talk!”

“Sure not to talk”, I corrected, “girls are afraid of the effect of such revelations; besides a word from you asking her to shield Mrs. Kellogg will ensure her silence.”

“Oh, I cannot advise her”, cried Smith, “I will not be mixed up in it: I told Kellogg at the time, I must leave the house, yet I don’t know where to go! It’s too disgraceful of him! His wife is really a dear woman!”

For the first time I became conscious of a rooted difference between Smith and myself: his high moral condemnation on very insufficient data seemed to me childish; but no doubt many of my readers will think my tolerance a proof of my shameless libertinism! However I jumped at the opportunity of talking to Rose on such a scabrous matter and at the same time solved Smith’s difficulty by proposing that he should come and take room and board with the Gregorys—a great stroke of practical diplomacy on my part, or so it appeared to me; for thereby I did the Gregorys, Smith and myself an immense, an incalculable service. Smith jumped at the idea, asked me to see about it at once and let him know and then rang for Rose.

She came half scared, half angry, on the defensive, I could see; so I spoke first, smiling: “Oh Rose”, I said, “Professor Smith has been telling me of your trouble: but you ought not to be angry: for you are so pretty that no wonder a man wants to kiss you: you must blame your lovely eyes and mouth”—

Rose laughed outright: she had come expecting reproof and found sweet flattery.

“There’s only one thing, Rose”, I went on: “the story would hurt Mrs. Kellogg if it got out and she’s not very strong, so you must say nothing about it, for her sake: that’s what Professor Smith wanted to say to you”, I added. “I’m not likely to tell”, cried Rose: “I’ll soon forget all about it: but I guess I’d better get another job: he’s liable to try again though I gave him a good hard slap”, and she laughed merrily.

“I’m so glad for Mrs. Kellogg’s sake”, said Smith gravely, “and if I can help you to get another place, please call upon me.”

“I guess I’ll have no difficulty”, said Rose flippantly with a shade of dislike of the Professor’s solemnity: “Mrs. Kellogg will give me a good character” and the healthy young minx grinned; “besides I’m not sure but I’ll go stay home a spell: I’m fed up with working and would like a holiday, and mother wants me—”

“Where do you live, Rose?” I asked with a keen eye for future opportunities; “On the other side of the river”, she replied, “next door to Elder Conklin’s, where your brother boards—” she added smiling.

When Rose went I begged Smith to pack his boxes for I would get him the best room at the Gregorys’ and I assured him it was really large and comfortable and would hold all his books, etc., and off I went to make my promise good. On the way I set myself to think how I could turn the kindness I was doing the Gregorys to the advantage of my love. I decided to make Kate a partner in the good deed, or at least a herald of the good news. So when I got home I rang the bell in my room and as I had hoped, Kate answered it. When I heard her footsteps I was shaking, hot with desire and now I wish to describe a feeling I then first began to notice in myself. I longed to take possession of the girl, so to speak, abruptly, ravish her in fact, or at least thrust both hands up her dress at once and feel her bottom and sex altogether; but already I knew enough to realise certainly that girls prefer gentle and courteous approaches: why? Of the fact I’m sure. So I said, “Come in, Kate!” gravely; “I want to ask you whether the best bedroom is still free and if you’d like Professor Smith to have it, if I could get him to come here?”

“I’m sure Mother would be delighted”, she exclaimed.

“You see”, I went on, “I’m trying to serve you all I can, yet you don’t even kiss me of your own accord”: she smiled and so I drew her to the bed and lifted her up on it: I saw her glance and answered it: “The door is shut, dear”, and half lying on her I began kissing her passionately while my hand went up her clothes to her sex. To my delight she wore no drawers, but at first she kept her legs tight together, frowning: “love denies nothing, Kate”, I said gravely; slowly she drew her legs apart, half pouting, half smiling, and let me caress her sex. When her love-juice came I kissed her and stopped: “It’s dangerous here”, I said, “that door you came in by is open; but I must see your lovely limbs” and I turned up her dress. I hadn’t exaggerated; she had limbs like a Greek statue and her triangle of brown hair lay in little silky curls on her belly and then—the sweetest cunny in the world: I bent down and kissed it.

In a moment Kate was on her feet, smoothing her dress down: “What a boy you are”, she exclaimed, “but that’s partly why I love you; oh, I hope you’ll love me half as much. Say you will, Sir, and I’ll do anything you wish!”

“I will”, I replied, “but oh, I’m glad you want love: can you come to me to night? I want a couple of hours with you uninterrupted.” “This afternoon”, she said, “I’ll say I’m going for a walk and I’ll come to you, dear! They are all resting then or out and I shan’t be missed.”

I could only wait and think. One thing was fixed in me, I must have her, make her mine before Smith came: he was altogether too fascinating, I thought, to be trusted with such a pretty girl; but I was afraid she would bleed and I did not want to hurt her this first time, so I went out and bought a syringe and a pot of cold cream which I put beside my bed.

Oh, how that dinner lagged! Mrs. Gregory thanked me warmly for my kindness to them all (which seemed to me pleasantly ironical!) and Mr. Gregory followed her lead; but at length everyone had finished and I went to my room to prepare. First I locked the outside door and drew down the blinds: then I studied the bed and turned it back and arranged a towel along the edge: happily the bed was just about the right height! Then I loosened my trowsers, unbuttoned the front and pulled up my shirt: a little later Kate put her lovely face in at the door and slipped inside. I shot the bolt and began kissing her: girls are strange mortals: she had taken off her corsets just as I had put a towel handy. I lifted up her clothes and touched her sex, caressing it gently while kissing her; in a moment or two her love-milk came.

I lifted her up on the bed, pushed down my trowsers, anointed my prick with the cream and then parting her legs and getting her to pull her knees up, I drew her bottom to the edge of the bed: she frowned at that but I explained quickly, “It may give you a little pain, at first, dear; and I want to give you as little as possible” and I slipped the head of my cock gently, slowly into her. Even greased her pussy was very tight and at the very entrance, I felt the obstacle, her maidenhead in the way: I lay on her and kissed her and let her or Mother Nature help me.

As soon as Kate found that I was leaving it to her, she pushed forward boldly and the obstacle yielded: “O—O” she cried and then pushed forward again roughly and my organ went in her to the hilt and her clitoris must have felt my belly. Resolutely I refrained from thrusting or withdrawing for a minute or two and then drew out slowly to her lips and as I pushed Tommy gently in again, she leaned up and kissed me passionately. Slowly with extremest care I governed myself and pushed in and out with long, slow thrusts though I longed, longed to plunge it in hard and quicken the strokes as much as possible; but I knew from Mrs. Mayhew that the long, gentle thrusts and slow withdrawals were the aptest to excite a woman’s passion and I was determined to win Kate.

In two or three minutes she had again let down a flow of love-juice or so I believed and I kept right on with the love-game, knowing that the first experience is never forgotten by a girl and resolved to keep on to dinner-time if necessary to make her first love-joust ever memorable to her. Kate lasted longer than Mrs. Mayhew: I came ever so many times, passing ever more slowly from orgasm to orgasm before she began to move to me; but at length her breath began to get shorter and shorter and she held me to her violently, moving her pussy the while up and down harshly against my manroot. Suddenly she relaxed and fell back: there was no hysteria; but plainly I could feel the mouth of her womb fasten on my cock as if to suck it. That excited me fiercely and for the first time I indulged in quick, hard thrusts till a spasm of intensest pleasure shook me and my seed spirted or seemed to spirt for the sixth or seventh time.

When I had finished kissing and praising my lovely partner and drew away, I was horrified: the bed was a sheet of blood and some had gone on my pants: Kate’s thighs and legs even were all incarnadined, making the lovely ivory white of her skin, one red. You may imagine how softly I used the towel on her legs and sex before I showed her the results of our love-passage. To my astonishment she was unaffected: “You must take the sheet away and burn it”, she said, “or drop it in the river: I guess it won’t be the first.”

“Did it hurt very much”, I asked.

“At first a good deal”, she replied, “but soon the pleasure overpowered the smart and I would not even forget the pain: I love you so: I am not even afraid of consequences with you: I trust you absolutely and love to trust you and run whatever risks you wish.”

“You darling!” I cried, “I don’t believe there will be any consequences; but I want you to go to the basin and use this syringe: I’ll tell you why afterwards.” At once she went over to the basin: “I feel funny, weak”, she said, “as if I were—I can’t describe it—shaky on my legs. I’m glad now I don’t wear drawers in summer: they’d get wet.” Her ablutions completed and the sheet withdrawn and done up in paper, I shot back the bolt and we began our talk. I found her intelligent and kindly but ignorant and ill-read; still she was not prejudiced and was eager to know all about babies and how they were made. I told her what I had told Mrs. Mayhew and something more: how my seed was composed of tens of thousands of infinitesimal tadpole-shaped animalculae—Already in her vagina and womb these infinitely little things had a race: they could move nearly an inch in an hour and the strongest and quickest got up first to where her egg was waiting in the middle of her womb. My little tadpole, the first to arrive, thrust his head into her egg and thus having accomplished his work of impregnation, perished, love and death being twins.

The curious thing was that this indescribably small tadpole should be able to transmit all the qualities of all his progenitors in certain proportions; no such miracle was ever imagined by any religious teacher. More curious still the living foetus in the womb passes in nine months through all the chief changes that the human race has gone through in countless aeons of time in its progress from the tadpole to the man. Till the fifth month the foetus is practically a four-legged animal.

I told her that it was accepted today that the weeks occupied in the womb in any metamorphosis corresponded exactly to the ages it occupied in reality. Thus it was upright, a two-legged animal, ape and then man in the womb for the last three months and this corresponded nearly to one third of man’s whole existence on this earth. Kate listened enthralled, I thought, till she asked me suddenly:

“But what makes one child a boy and another a girl?”

“The nearest we’ve come to a law on the matter”, I said, “is contained in the so-called law of contraries: that is, if the man is stronger than the woman, the children will be mostly girls; if the woman is greatly younger or stronger, the progeny will be chiefly boys. This bears out the old English proverb: “Any weakling can make a boy, it takes a man to make a girl.’”

Kate laughed and just then a knock came to the door. “Come in!” I cried and the colored maid came in with a note: “a lady’s just been and left it”, said Jenny. I saw it was from Mrs. Mayhew, so I crammed it into my pocket saying regretfully: “I must answer it soon.” Kate excused herself and after a long, long kiss went to prepare supper while I read Mrs. Mayhew’s note, which was short if not exactly sweet.

“Eight days and no Frank, and no news; you cannot want to kill me: come today if possible. Lorna.”

I replied at once, saying I would come on the morrow, that I was installing Smith in my boardinghouse and was so busy I didn’t know where to turn, but would be with her sure on the morrow and I signed “Your Frank.”

That afternoon at five o’clock Smith came and I helped to arrange his books and make him comfy.

[Illustration]




Chapter XI.MY FIRST VENUS.

              _Venus toute entiére à sa proie attachèe._




I meant to write nothing but the truth in these pages; yet now I’m conscious that my memory has played a trick on me: it is an artist in what painters call foreshortening: events, that is, which took months to happen, it crushes together into days, passing, so to speak, from mountain top to mountain top of feeling, and so the effect of passion is heightened by the partial elimination of time. I can do nothing more than warn my readers that in reality some of the love-passages I shall describe were separated by weeks and sometimes by months, that the nuggets of gold were occasional “finds” in a desert.

After all, it cannot matter to my “gentle readers” and my good readers will have already divined the fact, that when you crush eighteen years into nine chapters, you must leave out all sorts of minor happenings while recording chiefly the important—fortunately these carry the message.

It was with my knowledge as with my passions: day after day I worked feverishly: whenever I met a passage such as the building of the bridge in Caesar, I refused to burden my memory with the dozens of new words because I thought, and still think, Latin comparatively unimportant: the nearest to a great man the Latins ever produced being Tacitus or Lucretius. No sensible person would take the trouble to master a language in order to gain acquaintance with the second-rate. But new words in Greek were precious to me like new words in English and I used to memorize every passage studded with them save choruses like that of the birds in Aristophanes, where he names birds unfamiliar to me in life.

Smith, I found, knew all such words in both languages. I asked him one day and he admitted that he had read everything in ancient Greek, following the example of Hermann, the famous German scholar, and believed he knew almost every word.

I did not desire any such pedantic perfection. I make no pretension to scholarship of any sort and indeed learning of any kind leaves me indifferent unless it leads to a fuller understanding of beauty or that widening of the spirit by sympathy that is another name for wisdom. But what I wish to emphasize here is that in the first year with Smith I learned by heart dozens of choruses from the Greek dramatists and the whole of the “Apologia” and “Crito” of Plato, having guessed then and still believe that the “Crito” is a model short story, more important than any of even Plato’s speculations. Plato and Sophocles! it was worth while spending five years of hard labor to enter into their intimacy and make them sister-spirits of one’s soul. Didn’t Sophocles give me Antigone, the prototype of the new woman for all time, in her sacred rebellion against hindering laws and thwarting conventions, the eternal model of that dauntless assertion of love that is beyond and above sex, the very heart of the Divine!

And the Socrates of Plato led me to that high place where man becomes God, having learned obedience to law and the cheerful acceptance of Death; but even there I needed Antigone, the twin sister of Bazaroff, at least as much, realising intuitively that my life-work, too, would be chiefly in revolt and that the punishment Socrates suffered and Antigone dared, would almost certainly be mine; for I was fated to meet worse opponents; after all, Creon was only stupid whereas Sir Thomas Horridge was malevolent to boot and Woodrow Wilson unspeakable!

Again I am outrunning my story by half a century!

But in what I have written of Sophocles and Plato the reader will divine, I hope, my intense love and admiration for Smith who led me, as Vergil led Dante, into the ideal world that surrounds our earth as with illimitable spaces of purple sky, wind-swept and star-sown!

If I could tell what Smith’s daily companionship now did for me, I would hardly need to write this book; for like all I have written, some of the best of it belongs as much to him as to me. In his presence for the first year and a half, I was merely a sponge, absorbing now this truth, now that, hardly conscious of an original impulse. Yet all the time, too, as will be seen, I was advising him and helping him from my knowledge of life. Our relation was really rather like that of a small, practical husband with some wise and infinitely learned Aspasia! I want to say here in contempt of probability that in all our years of intimacy, living together for over three years side by side, I never found a fault in him of character or of sympathy, save the one that drew him to his death.

Now I must leave him for the moment and turn again to Mrs. Mayhew. Of course I went to her that next afternoon even before three. She met me without a word so gravely that I did not even kiss her: but began explaining what Smith was to me and how I could not do enough for him who was everything to my mind as she was (God help me!) to my heart and body, and I kissed her cold lips while she shook her head half sadly.

“We have a sixth sense, we women, when we are in love”, she began: “I feel a new influence in you; I scent danger in the air you bring with you: don’t ask me to explain: I can’t; but my heart is heavy and cold as death.... If you leave me, there’ll be a catastrophe: the fall from such a height of happiness must be fatal.... If you can feel pleasure away from me, you no longer love me. I feel none except in having you, seeing you, thinking of you—none. Oh! why can’t you love like a woman loves, No! like I love: it would be heaven; for you and you alone satisfy the insatiable; you leave me bathed in bliss, sighing with satisfaction, happy as the Queen of Heaven!”

“I have much to tell you, new things to say”, I began in haste.

“Come upstairs,” I broke in interrupting myself “I want you as you are now, with the color in your cheeks, the light in your eyes, the vibration in your voice, come!”

And she came like a sad sybil. “Who gave you the tact?” she began while we were undressing, “the tact to praise always?” I seized her and stood naked against her body to body: “What new thing have you to tell me?” I asked, lifting her into the bed and getting in beside her, cuddling up to her warmer body.

“There’s always something new in my love,” she cried, cupping my face with her slim hands and taking my lips with hers.

“Oh, how I desired you yesternoon, for I took the letter to your house myself and I heard you talking in your room perhaps with Smith”, she added, sounding my eyes with hers; “I’m longing to believe it; but when I heard your voice, or imagined I did, I felt the lips of my sex open and shut and then it began to burn and itch intolerably. I was on the point of going in to you; but instead, turned and hurried away, raging at you and at myself—.”

“I will not let you even talk such treason,” I cried, separating her soft thighs, as I spoke, and sliding between them. In a moment my sex was in her and we were one body, while I drew it out slowly and then pushed it in again, her naked body straining to mine.

“Oh” she cried, “as you draw out, my heart follows your sex in fear of losing it and as you push in again, it opens wide in ecstasy and wants you all, all—” and she kissed me with hot lips.

“Here is something new,” she exclaimed, “food for your vanity from my love! Mad as you make me with your love-thrusts, for at one moment I am hot and dry with desire, the next wet with passion, bathed in love, I could live with you all my life without having you, if you wished it, or if it would do you good. Do you believe me?”

“Yes,” I replied, continuing the love-game; but occasionally withdrawing to rub her clitoris with my sex and then slowly burying him in her cunt again to the hilt.

“We women have no souls but love,” she said faintly, her eyes dying as she spoke:

“I torture myself to think of some new pleasure for you, and yet you’ll leave me, I feel you will, for some silly girl who can’t feel a tithe of what I feel or give you what I give—.” She began here to breathe quickly: “I’ve been thinking how to give you more pleasure; let me try. Your seed, darling, is dear to me: I don’t want it in my sex; I want to feel you thrill and so I want your sex in my mouth, I want to drink your essence and I will—” and suiting the action to the word she slipped down in the bed and took my sex in her mouth and began rubbing it up and down till my seed spirted in long jets, filling her mouth while she swallowed it greedily.

“Now do I love you, Sir!” she exclaimed, drawing herself up on me again and nestling against me: “wait till some girl does that to you and you’ll know she loves you to distraction or better still to self-destruction.”

“Why do you talk of any other girl!” I chided her, “I don’t imagine you going with any other man, why should you torment yourself just as causelessly?”

She shook her head: “My fears are prophetic”, she sighed, “I’m willing to believe it hasn’t happened yet though—Ah God, the torturing thought! the mere dread of your going with another drives me crazy; I could kill her, the bitch: why doesn’t she get a man of her own? How dare she even look at you?” and she clasped me tightly to her. Nothing loath, I pushed my sex into her again and began the slow movement that excited her so quickly and me so gradually for even while using all my skill to give her the utmost pleasure, I could not help comparing and I realised surely enough that Kate’s pussy was smaller and firmer and gave me infinitely more pleasure; still I kept on for her delight. And now again she began to pant and choke and as I continued ploughing her body and touching her womb with every slow thrust she began to cry inarticulately with little short cries growing higher in intensity till suddenly she squealed like a shot rabbit and then shrieked with laughter, breaking down in a storm of sighs and sobs and floods of tears.

As usual, her intensity chilled me a little; for her paroxysm aroused no corresponding heat in me, tending even to check my pleasure by the funny, irregular movements she made!

Suddenly I heard steps going away from the door, light stealing steps: who could it be! The servant? or—?

Lorna had heard them too, and though still panting and swallowing convulsively, she listened intently while her great eyes wandered in thought. I knew I could leave the riddle to her: it was my task to reassure and caress her.

I got up and went over to the open window for a breath of air and suddenly I saw Lily run quickly across the grass and disappear in the next house: so she was the listener! When I recalled Lorna’s gasping cries, I smiled to myself. If Lily tried to explain them to herself, she would have an uneasy hour, I guessed.

When Lorna had dressed, and she dressed quickly, and went downstairs hastily to convince herself, I think, that her darky had not spied on her, I waited in the sitting-room: I must warn Lorna that my “studies” would only allow me to give one day a week to our pleasures.

“Oh!” she cried, turning pale as I explained, “didn’t I know it!”

“But Lorna,” I pleaded, “didn’t you say you could do without me altogether if ’twas for my good!”

“No, no, no! a thousand times no!” she cried, “I said if you were with me always, I could do without passion; but this starvation fare once a week! Go, go!” she cried, “or I’ll say something I’ll regret. Go!” and she pushed me out of the door and thinking it better in view of the future, I went.

The truth is, I was glad to get away: novelty is the soul of passion. There’s an old English proverb: “fresh cunt, fresh courage.” On my way home I thought oftener of the slim, dark figure of Lily than of the woman every hill and valley of whose body was now familiar to me, whereas Lily with her narrow hips and straight flanks must have a tiny sex I thought;—“D—n Lily” and I hastened to Smith.

We went down to supper together and I introduced Smith to Kate: they were just polite; but when she turned to me she scanned me curiously, her brows lifting in a gesture of “I know what I know” which was to become familiar to me in the sequel.

After supper I had a long talk with Smith in his room, a heart to heart talk which altered our relations.

I have already mentioned that Smith got ill every fortnight or so. I had no inkling of the cause, no notion of the scope of the malady. This evening he grew reminiscent and told me everything.

He had thought himself very strong, it appeared, till he went to Athens to study. There he worked prodigiously and almost at the beginning of his stay came to know a Greek girl of a good class who talked Greek with him and finally gave herself to him passionately. Being full of youthful vigor always quickened by vivid imaginings, he told me that he usually came the first time almost as soon as he entered and that in order to give his partner pleasure, he had to come two or three times and this drained and exhausted him. He admitted that he had abandoned himself to this fierce love-play day after day in and out of season. When he returned to the United States, he tried to put his Greek girl out of his head; but in spite of all he could do, he had love-dreams that came to an orgasm and ended in emissions of seed about once a fortnight. And after a year or so these fortnightly emissions gave him intense pains in the small of his back which lasted some twenty-four hours, evidently till some more seed had been secreted. I could not imagine how a fortnightly emission could weaken and distress a young man of Smith’s vigor and health; but as soon as I had witnessed his suffering I set my wits to work and told him of the trick by which I had brought my wet-dreams to an end in the English school.

Smith at once consented to try my remedy and as the fortnight was about up, I went at once in search of whipcord, and tied up his unruly member for him night after night. For some days the remedy worked, then he went out and spent the afternoon and night at Judge Stevens’ and he was ill again. Of course, there had been no connection: indeed, in my opinion, it would have been much better for Smith if there had been, but the propinquity of the girl he loved and, of course, the kissings that are always allowed to engaged couples by American custom, took place unchecked and when he went to sleep, his dreaming ended in an orgasm. The worst of it was that my remedy having prevented his dreaming from reaching a climax for eighteen or twenty days, he dreamed a second time and had a second wet dream, which brought him to misery and even intenser pain than usual.

[Illustration]

I combatted the evil with all the wit I possessed. I got Ned Stevens to lend the Professor a horse; I had Blue Devil out and we went riding two or three times a week. I got boxing gloves too and soon either Ned or I had a bout with Smith every day: gradually these exercises improved his general health; and when I could tie on the whipcord every night for a month or two, he put on weight and gained strength surprisingly.

The worst of it was that this improvement in health always led to a day or two spent with his betrothed, which undid all the good. I advised him to marry and then control himself rigorously; but he wanted to get well first and be his vigorous self again. I did all I knew to help him but for a long time I had no suspicion that an occasional wet-dream could have serious consequences. We used to make fun of them as schoolboys: how could I imagine—but as it is the finest, most highly strung natures that are most apt to suffer in this way, I will tell what happened step by step: suffice it to say here that he was in better health when staying with me at the Gregory’s than he had been before and I continually hoped for a permanent improvement.

After our talk that first night in Gregory’s, I went downstairs to the dining-room, hoping to find Kate alone: I was lucky: she had persuaded her mother, who was tired, to go to bed and was just finishing her tidying up.

“I want you so, Kate,” I said, trying to kiss her: she drew her head aside: “That’s why you’ve kept away all afternoon” I suppose; and she looked at me with sidelong glance. An inspiration came to me: “Kate”, I exclaimed, “I had to be fitted for my new clothes!” “Forgive me”, she cried at once, that excuse being valid: “I thought, I feared—oh I’m suspicious without reason, I know, am jealous without cause, there! I confess!” and the great hazel eyes turned on me full of love.

I played with her breasts, whispering “When am I to see you naked, Kate? I want to; when?” “You’ve seen most of me!” and she laughed joyously!

“All right,” I said, turning away, “if you are resolved to make fun of me and be mean to me—”

“Mean to you!” she cried, catching me and swinging me round, “I could easier be mean to myself. I’m glad you want to see me, glad and proud, and tonight, if you’ll leave your door open, I’ll come to you: mean, oh—’and she gave her soul in a kiss.

“Isn’t it risky?” I asked.

“I tried the stairs this afternoon,” she glowed, “they don’t creak: no one will hear, so don’t sleep or I’ll surprise you”—By way of sealing the compact, I put my hand up her clothes and caressed her sex; it was hot and soon opened to me.

“There now, Sir, go!” she smiled, “or you’ll make me very naughty and I have a lot to do!”

“How do you mean ‘naughty’,” I said, “tell me what you feel? please!”

“I feel my heart beating”, she said, “and, and—oh! wait till tonight and I’ll try to tell you, dear!” and she pushed me out of the door.

For the first time in my life I notice here that the writer’s art is not only inferior to reality in keenness of sensation and emotion; but also more same, monotonous even, because incapable of showing the tiny, yet ineffable differences of the same feeling which difference of personality brings with it. I seem to be repeating myself in describing Kate’s love after Mrs. Mayhew’s, making the girl’s feelings a fainter replica of the woman’s. In reality the two were completely different. Mrs. Mayhew’s feelings long repressed flamed with the heat of an afternoon in July or August; while in Kate’s one felt the freshness and cool of a summer morning, shot through with the suggestion of heat to come. And this comparison even is inept because it leaves out of the account, the effect of Kate’s beauty, the great hazel eyes, the rosied skin, the superb figure. Besides there was a glamour of the spirit about Kate: Lorna Mayhew would never give me a new note that didn’t spring from passion; in Kate I felt a spiritual personality and the thrill of undeveloped possibilities. And still using my utmost skill, I haven’t shown my reader the enormous superiority of the girl and her more unselfish love. But I haven’t finished yet.

Smith had given me “The Mill on the Floss” to read; I had never tried George Eliot before and I found that this book almost deserved Smith’s praise. I had read till about one o’clock when my heart heard her; or was it some thrill of expectance? The next moment my door opened and she came in with the mane of hair about her shoulders and a long dressing gown reaching to her stockinged feet. I got up like a flash; but she had already closed the door and bolted it; I drew her to the bed and stopped her from throwing off the dressing-gown: “let me take off your stockings first”, I whispered, “I want you all imprinted on me!”

The next moment, she stood there naked, the flickering flame of the candle throwing quaint arabesques of light and shade on her beautiful ivory body: I gazed and gazed: from the navel down she was perfect; I turned her round and the back too, the bottom even was faultless though large; but alas! the breasts were far too big for beauty, too soft to excite! I must think only of the bold curve of her hips, I reflected, the splendor of the firm thighs, the flesh of which had the hard outline of marble and her—sex? I put her on the bed and opened her thighs: her pussy was ideally perfect.

At once I wanted to get into her; but she pleaded: “please, dear, come into bed: I’m cold and want you.” So in I got and began kissing her.

Soon she grew warm and I pulled off my nightshirt and my middle finger was caressing her sex that opened quickly: “E—E!” she said drawing in her breath quickly: “it still hurts.” I put my sex gently against hers, moving it up and down slowly till she drew up her knees to let me in; but as soon as the head entered, her face puckered a little with pain and as I had had a long afternoon, I was the more inclined to forbear and accordingly I drew away and took place beside her:

“I cannot bear to hurt you,” I said, “love’s pleasure must be mutual.”

“You’re sweet!” she whispered, “I’m glad you stopped; for it shows you really care for me and not just for the pleasure!” and she kissed me lovingly.

“Kate, reward me,” I said, “by telling me just what you felt when I first had you” and I put her hand on my hot stiff sex to encourage her.

“It’s impossible,” she said, flushing a little, “there was such a throng of new feelings; why, this evening waiting in bed for the time to pass and thinking of you, I felt a strange prickling sensation in the inside of my thighs that I never felt before and now”—and she hid her glowing face against my neck, “I feel it again!”

“Love is funny, isn’t it?” she whispered the next moment: “now the pricking sensation is gone and the front part of my sex burns and itches, Oh! I must touch it!”

“Let me,” I cried, and in a moment I was on her, working my organ up and down on her clitoris, the porch, so to speak, of Love’s temple. A little later she herself sucked the head into her hot, dry pussy and then closed her legs as if in pain to stop me going further; but I began to rub my sex up and down on her tickler, letting it slide right in, every now and then, till she panted and her love-juice came and my weapon sheathed itself in her naturally. I soon began the very slow and gentle in-and-out movements which increased her excitement steadily while giving her more and more pleasure, till I came and immediately she lifted my chest up from her breasts with both hands and showed me her glowing face. “Stop, boy,” she gasped, “please: my heart’s fluttering so! I came too, you know, just with you” and indeed I felt her trembling all over convulsively.

I drew out and for safety’s sake got her to use the syringe, having already explained its efficacy to her; she was adorably awkward and when she had finished I took her to bed again and held her to me, kissing her. “So you really love me, Kate!”

“Really,” she said, “you don’t know how much!”

“I’ll try never to suspect anything or be jealous again,” she went on, “it’s a hateful feeling, isn’t it? But I want to see your class-room: would you take me up once to the University?”

“Why, of course”, I cried, “I should be only too glad; I’ll take you tomorrow afternoon, or better still”, I added, “come up the hill at four o’clock and I’ll meet you at the entrance.”

And so it was settled and Kate went back to her room as noiselessly as she had come.

The next afternoon I found her waiting in the University Hall ten minutes before the hour; for our lectures beginning at the hour always stopped after forty-five minutes to give us time to be punctual at any other class-room. After showing her everything of interest, we walked home together laughing and talking, when, a hundred yards from Mrs. Mayhew’s, we met that lady, face to face. I don’t know how I looked, for being a little shortsighted I hadn’t recognized her till she was within ten yards of me; but her glance pierced me. She bowed with a look that took us both in, I lifted my hat and we passed on.

“Who’s that?” exclaimed Kate, “what a strange look she gave us!”

“She’s the wife of a gambler,” I replied as indifferently as I could, “he gives me work now and then” I went on, strangely forecasting the future. Kate looked at me probing, then: “I don’t mind; but I’m glad she’s quite old!”

“As old as both of us put together!” I added traitorously, and we went on.

These love-passages with Mrs. Mayhew and Kate, plus my lessons and my talks with Smith, fairly represent my life’s happenings for this whole year from seventeen to eighteen, with this solitary qualification that my afternoons with Lorna became less and less agreeable to me. But now I must relate happenings that again affected my life.

I hadn’t been four months with the Gregorys when Kate told me that my brother Willie had ceased to pay my board for more than a fortnight; she added sweetly:

“It doesn’t matter, dear, but I thought you ought to know and I’d hate any one to hurt you, so I took it on myself to tell you.” I kissed her, said it was sweet of her, and went to find Willie; he made excuses voluble but not convincing and ended up by giving me a cheque while begging me to tell Mrs. Gregory that he, too, would come and board with her.

The incident set me thinking. I made Kate promise to tell me if he ever failed again to pay what was due and I used the happening to excuse myself to Lorna. I went to see her and told her that I must think at once of earning my living. I had still some five hundred dollars left but I wanted to be beforehand with need: besides it gave me a good excuse for not visiting her even weekly. “I must work!” I kept repeating though I was ashamed of the lie.

“Don’t whip me, dear!” she pleaded; “my impotence to help you is painful enough; give me time to think. I know Mayhew is quite well off: give me a day or two, but come to me when you can. You see, I’ve no pride where you are concerned: I just beg like a dog for kind treatment for my love’s sake. I wouldn’t have believed that I could be so transformed. I was always so proud: my husband calls me ‘proud and cold’, me cold! It’s true I shiver when I hear your voice, but it’s the shivering of fever. When you came in just now unexpectedly and kissed me, waves of heat swept over me: my womb moved inside me. I never felt that till I had loved you and now, of course, my sex burns—I wish I were cold: a cold woman could rule the world—

“But no! I wouldn’t change. Just as I never wished to be a man, never; though other girls used to say they would like to change their sex; I, never! And since I’ve been married, less than ever. What’s a man? His love is over before ours begins—”

“Really?” I broke in grinning.

“Not you, my beloved!” she cried, “oh, not you; but then you are more than man! Come, don’t let us waste time in talk. Now I have you, take me to our Heaven. I’m ready, ‘ripe-ready’ is your word: I go to our bed as to an altar. If I’m only to have you even less than once a week, don’t come again for ten days: I shall be well again then and you can surely come to me a few days running: I want to reach the heights and hug the illusion, cramming one hot week with bliss and then death for a fortnight. What rags we women are! Come, dear, I will be your sheath and you shall be the sword and drive right into me—But I’ll help you”, she cried suddenly: “Was it that girl told you, you owed money for food? (I nodded and she glowed.) Oh, I’ll help, never fear! I never liked that girl: she’s brazen and conceited and—Oh! Why did you walk with her?”

“She wanted to see the University”, I said, “and I could not well refuse her.” “Oh, pay her” she cried, “but don’t walk with her. She’s a common thing, fancy her mentioning money to you, my dear!”

That same evening I got a note from Lorna, saying her husband wanted to see me.

I met the little man in the sitting-room and he proposed that I should come to his rooms every evening after supper and sit in a chair near the door reading; but with a Colt’s revolver handy so that no one could rob him and get away with the plunder.

“I’d feel safer”, he ended up, “and my wife tells me you’re a sure shot and used to a wild life: what do you say? I’d give you sixty dollars a month and more than half the time you’d be free before midnight.”

“It’s very kind of you”, I exclaimed with hot cheeks, “and very kind of Mrs. Mayhew too: I’ll do it and I beg you to believe that no one will bother you and get away with a whole skin”, and so it was settled.

Aren’t women wonderful! In half a day she had solved my difficulty and I found the hours spent in Mayhew’s gambling rooms were more valuable than I had dreamed. The average man reveals himself in gaming more than in love or drink and I was astonished to discover that many of the so-called best citizens had a flutter with Mayhew from time to time. I don’t believe they had a fair deal, he won too constantly for that; but it was none of my business so long as the clients accepted the results: and he often showed kindness by giving back a few dollars after he had skinned a man of all he possessed.

Naturally the fact that I was working with her husband threw me more into Mrs. Mayhew’s society: twice or so a week I had to spend the afternoon with her, and the constraint irked me. Kate, too, objected to my visits: she had too much pride to speak openly but one day she had seen me go in to Mrs. Mayhew’s and I think divined the rest; for at first she was cold to me and drew away even from my kisses: “you’ve chilled me”, she cried, “I don’t think I shall ever love you again entirely.” But when I got into her and really excited her, she suddenly kissed me fervently and her glorious eyes had heavy tears in them. “Why do you cry, dear?” I asked. “Because I cannot make you mine as I am all yours!” she cried. “Oh!” she went on, clutching me to her, “I think the pleasure is increased by the dreadful fear—and the hate—oh, love me and me only, love mine!” Of course, I promised fidelity; but I was surprised to feel that my desire for Kate, too, was beginning to cool.

The arrangement with the Mayhews came to an unexpected and untimely end. Mayhew now and then had a tussle with another gambler and after I had been with him about three months, a gambler from Denver had a great contest with him and afterwards proposed that they should join forces and Mayhew should come to Denver. “More money to be made there in a week”, he declared, “than in Lawrence in a month.” Finally he persuaded Mayhew, who was wise enough to say nothing to his wife till the whole arrangement was fixed. She raved but could do nothing save give in, and so we had to part. Mayhew gave me one hundred dollars as a bonus, and Lorna one unforgettable, astonishing afternoon which I must now try to describe.

I did not go near the Mayhews’ the day after his gift, leaving Lorna to suppose that I looked upon everything as ended. But the day after that I got a word from her, an imperious:

“Come at once, I must see you!”

Of course I went though reluctantly.

As soon as I entered the room she rose from the sofa and came to me: “if I get you work in Denver, will you come out?”

“How could I?” I asked in absolute astonishment, “you know I’m bound here to the University and then I want to go into a law-office as well: besides I could not leave Smith: I’ve never known such a teacher: I don’t believe his equal can be found anywhere.”

She nodded her head: “I see”, she sighed, “I suppose it’s impossible; but I must see you”, she cried, “if I haven’t the hope, what do I say! the certainty of seeing you again, I shan’t go. I’d rather kill myself! I’ll be a servant and stay with you, my darling, and take care of you! I don’t care what I do so long as we are together: I’m nearly crazed with fear that I shall lose you.”

“It’s all a question of money”, I said quietly, for the idea of her staying behind scared me stiff: “if I can earn money, I’d love to go to Denver in my holidays. It must be gorgeous there in summer six thousand odd feet above sea-level: I’d delight in it.”

“If I send you the money, you’ll come?” she asked briefly.

I made a face: “I can’t take money from—a love”, (I said “love” instead of “woman”: it was not so ugly) I went on, “but Smith says he can get me work and I have still a little: I’ll come in the holidays.”

“Holy days they’ll be to me!” she said solemnly, and then with quick change of mood, “I’ll make a beautiful room for our love in Denver; but you must come for Christmas, I could not wait till midsummer: oh, how I shall ache for you—ache!”

“Come upstairs”, I coaxed and she came, and we went to bed: I found her mad with desire; but after I had brought her in an hour to hysteria and she lay in my arms crying, she suddenly said: “he promised to come home early this afternoon and I said I’d have a surprise for him. When he finds us together like this, it’ll be a surprise, won’t it?”

“But you’re mad!” I cried, getting out of bed in a flash, “I shall never be able to visit you in Denver if we have a row here!”

“That’s true”, she said as if in a dream, “that’s true: it’s a pity: I’d love to have seen his foolish face stretched to wonder; but you’re right. Hurry!” she cried and was out of the room in a twinkling.

When she returned, I was dressed.

“Go downstairs and wait for me”, she commanded, “on our sofa. If he knocks, open the door to him; that’ll be a surprise, though not so great a one as I had planned”, she added, laughing shrilly.

“Are you going without kissing me?” she cried when I was at the door, “Well, go, it’s all right, go! for if I felt your lips again, I might keep you.”

I went downstairs and in a few moments she followed me. “I can’t bear you to go!” she cried, “how partings hurt!” she whispered. “Why should we part again, love mine?” and she looked at me with rapt eyes.

“This life holds nothing worth having but love; let us make love deathless, you and I, going together to death. What do we lose? Nothing! This world is an empty shell! Come with me, love, and we’ll meet Death together!”

“Oh, I want to do such a lot of things first”, I exclaimed, “Death’s empire is eternal; but this brief taste of life, the adventure of it, the change of it, the huge possibilities of it beckon me—I can’t leave it.” “The change!” she cried with dilating nostrils while her eyes darkened, “the change!”

“You are determined to misunderstand me,” I cried, “is not every day a change?”

“I am weary”, she cried, “and beaten: I can only beg you not to forget your promise to come—ah!” and she caught and kissed me on the mouth: “I shall die with your name on my lips”, she said, and turned to bury her face in the sofa cushion. I went: what else was there to do?

I saw them off at the station: Lorna had made me promise to write often, and swore she would write every day and she did send me short notes daily for a fortnight: then came gaps ever lengthening: “Denver society was pleasant and a Mr. Wilson, a student, was assiduous: he comes every day”, she wrote. Excuses finally, little hasty notes, and in two months her letters were formal, cold; in three months they had ceased altogether.

The break did not surprise me: I had taught her that youth was the first requisite in a lover for a woman of her type: she had doubtless put my precepts into practice: Mr. Wilson was probably as near the ideal as I was and very much nearer to hand.

The passions of the senses demand propinquity and satisfaction and nothing is more forgetful than pleasures of the flesh. If Mrs. Mayhew had given me little, I had given her even less of my better self.




Chapter XII. HARD TIMES AND NEW LOVES

So far I had had more good fortune than falls to the lot of most youths starting in life; now I was to taste ill-luck and be tried as with fire. I had been so taken up with my own concerns that I had hardly given a thought to public affairs; now I was forced to take a wider view.

One day Kate told me that Willie was heavily in arrears: he had gone back to Deacon Conkling’s to live on the other side of the Kaw River and I had naturally supposed that he had paid up everything before leaving. Now I found that he owed the Gregorys sixty dollars on his own account and more than that on mine.

I went across to him really enraged. If he had warned me, I should not have minded so much; but to leave the Gregorys to tell me, made me positively dislike him and I did not know then the full extent of his selfishness. Years later my sister told me that he had written time and again to my father and got money from him, alleging that it was for me and that I was studying and couldn’t earn anything: “Willie kept us poor, Frank”, she said, and I could only bow my head; but if I had known this fact at the time, it would have changed all my relations with Willie.

As it was, I found him in the depths. Carried away by his optimism, he had bought real estate in 1871 and 1872, mortgaged it for more than he gave and as the boom continued, he had repeated this game time and again till on paper and in paper he reckoned he had made a hundred thousand dollars. This he had told me and I was glad of it for his sake, unfeignedly glad.

It was easy to see that the boom and inflation period had been based at first on the extraordinary growth of the country through the immigration and trade that had followed the Civil War. But the Franco-German war had wasted wealth prodigiously, deranged trade too, and diverted commerce into new channels. France and then England first felt the shock: London had to call in monies lent to American railways and other enterprises. Bit by bit even American optimism was overcome for immigration in 1871 and 1872 fell off greatly and the foreign calls for cash exhausted our banks. The crash came in 1873; nothing like it was seen again in these States till the slump of 1907 which led to the founding of the Federal Reserve Bank.

Willie’s fortune melted almost in a moment: this mortgage and that, had to be met and could only be met by forced sales with no buyers except at minimum values. When I talked to him, he was almost in despair; no money: no property: all lost; the product of three years’ hard work and successful speculation all swept away. Could I help him? If not, he was ruined. He told me then he had drawn all he could from my father: naturally I promised to help him; but first I had to pay the Gregorys and to my astonishment he begged me to let him have the money instead. “Mrs. Gregory and all of ’em like you”, he pleaded, “they can wait, I cannot; I know of a purchase that could be made that would make me rich again!”

I realised then that he was selfish through and through, conscienceless in egotistic greed. I gave up my faint hope that he would ever repay me: henceforth he was a stranger to me and one that I did not even respect, though he had some fine, ingratiating qualities.

I left him to walk across the river and in a few blocks met Rose. She looked prettier than ever and I turned and walked with her, praising her beauty to the skies and indeed she deserved it; short green sleeves, I remember, set off her exquisite, plump, white arms. I promised her some books and made her say she would read them; indeed I was astonished by the warmth of her gratitude: she told me it was sweet of me, gave me her eyes and we parted the best of friends, with just a hint of warmer relationship in the future.

That evening I paid the Gregorys, Willie’s debt and my own and—did not send him the balance of what I possessed as I had promised; but instead, a letter telling him I had preferred to cancel his debt to the Gregorys.

Next day he came and assured me he had promised monies on the strength of my promise, had bought a hundred crates, too, of chickens to ship to Denver and had already an offer from the Mayor of Denver at double what he had given. I read the letters and wire he showed me and let him have four hundred dollars, which drained me and kept me poor for months; indeed, till I brought off the deal with Dingwall which I am about to relate which put me on my feet again in comfort.

I should now tell of Willie’s misadventure with his car-load of chickens: it suffices here to say that he was cheated by his purchaser and that I never saw a dollar of all I had loaned him.

Looking back I understand that it was probably the slump of 1873 that induced the Mayhews to go to Denver; but after they left, I was at a loose end for some months. I could not get work though I tried everything: I was met everywhere with the excuse: “hard times: hard times!” At length I took a place as waiter in the Eldridge House, the only job I could find that left most of the forenoon free for the University. Smith disliked this new departure of mine and told me he would soon find me a better post, and Mrs. Gregory was disgusted and resentful—partly out of snobbishness, I think. From this time on I felt her against me and gradually she undermined my influence with Kate: I soon knew I had fallen in public esteem too, but not for long.

One day in the fall Smith introduced me to a Mr. Rankin, the cashier of the First National Bank, who handed over to me at once the letting of Liberty Hall, the one hall in the town large enough to accommodate a thousand people: it had a stage, too, and so could be used for theatrical performances. I gave up my work in the Eldridge House and instead used to sit in the box-office of the Hall from two every afternoon till seven, and did my best to let it advantageously to the advance agents of the various travelling shows or lecturers. I received sixty dollars a month for this work and one day got an experience which has modified my whole life, for it taught me how money is made in this world and can be made by any intelligent man.

One afternoon the advance agent of the Hatherly Minstrels came into my room and threw down his card.

“This old one-hoss shay of a town”, he cried, “should wear grave-clothes.”

“What’s the matter!” I asked. “Matter!” he repeated scornfully, “I don’t believe there’s a place in the hull God d—d town big enough to show our double-crown Bills! Not one: not a place. And I meant to spend ten thousand dollars here in advertising the great Hatherly Minstrels, the best show on earth: they’ll be here for a hull fortnight and by God, you won’t take my money: you don’t want money in this dead-and-alive hole!”

The fellow amused me: he was so convinced and outspoken that I took to him. As luck would have it I had been at the University till late that day and had not gone to the Gregory’s for dinner: I was healthily hungry: I asked Mr. Dingwall whether he had dined?

“No, Sir”, was his reply, “Can one dine in this place?”

“I guess so”, I replied, “if you’ll do me the honor of being my guest, I’ll take you to a good porterhouse steak at least” and I took him across to the Eldridge House, a short distance away, leaving a young friend, Will Thomson, a doctor’s son whom I knew, in my place.

I gave Dingwall the best dinner I could and drew him out: he was, indeed, “a live wire” as he phrased it and suddenly inspired by his optimism the idea came to me that if he would deposit the ten thousand dollars he had talked of, I could put up hoardings on all the vacant lots in Massachusetts Street and make a good thing out of exhibiting the bills of the various travelling shows that visited Lawrence. It wasn’t the first time I had been asked to help advertise this or that entertainment. I put forward my idea timidly, yet Dingwall took it up at once: “if you can find good security, or a good surety”, he said, “I’ll leave five thousand dollars with you: I’ve no right to, but I like you and I’ll risk it.”

I took him across to Mr. Rankin, the banker, who listened to me benevolently and finally said:

“Yes”, he’d go surety that I’d exhibit a thousand bills for a fortnight all down the chief street on hoardings to be erected at once, on condition that Mr. Dingwall paid five thousand dollars in advance, and he gave Mr. Dingwall a letter to that effect and then told me pleasantly he held five thousand and some odd dollars at my service.

Dingwall took the next train west, leaving me to put up hoardings in a month, after getting first of all the permission from the lot-owners. To cut a long story short, I got the permission from a hundred lot-owners in a week through my brother Willie, who as an estate agent knew them all. Then I made a contract with a little English carpenter and put the hoardings up and got the bills all posted three days before the date agreed upon. Hatherly’s Minstrels had a great fortnight and everyone was content. From that time on, I drew about fifty dollars a week as my profit from letting the hoardings, in spite of the slump.

Suddenly Smith got a bad cold: Lawrence is nearly a thousand feet above sea-level and in winter can be as icy as the Pole. He began to cough, a nasty, little, dry hacking cough: I persuaded him to see a doctor and then to have a consultation, the result being that the specialists all diagnosed tuberculosis and recommended immediate change to the milder east. For some reason or other, I believe because an editorial post on the “Press” in Philadelphia was offered to him, he left Lawrence hastily and took up his residence in the Quaker City.

His departure had notable results for me. First of all, the spiritual effect astonished me. As soon as he went, I began going over all he had taught me, especially in economics and metaphysics: bit by bit I came to the conclusion that his Marxian communism was only half the truth and probably the least important half: his Hegelianism, too, which I have hardly mentioned, was pure moonshine in my opinion: extremely beautiful at moments, as the moon is when silvering purple clouds: “history is the development of the Spirit in time: Nature is the projection of the idea in space”, sounds wonderful; but it’s moon-shiney, and not very enlightening.

In the first three months of Smith’s absence, my own individuality sprang upright, like a sapling that has long been bent almost to breaking, so to speak, by a superincumbent weight and I began to grow with a sort of renewed youth. Now for the first time, when about nineteen years of age, I came to self-consciousness as Frank Harris and began to deal with life in my own way and under this name, Frank.

As soon as I returned from the Eldridge House to lodge with the Gregorys again, Kate showed herself just as kind to me as ever; she would come to my bedroom twice or thrice a week and was always welcome; but again and again I felt that her mother was intent on keeping us apart as much as possible and at length she arranged that Kate should pay a visit to some English friends who were settled in Kansas City. Kate postponed the visit several times: but at length she had to yield to her mother’s entreaties and advice. By this time my hoardings were bringing me in a good deal and so I proposed to accompany Kate and spend the whole night with her in some Kansas City hotel.

We got to the hotel about ten and bold as brass I registered as Mr. and Mrs. William Wallace and went up to our room with Kate’s luggage, my heart beating in my throat: Kate, too, was “all of a quiver” as she confessed to me a little later; but what a night we had! Kate resolved to show me all her love and gave herself to me passionately; but she never took the initiative, I noticed, as Mrs. Mayhew used to do.

At first I kissed her and talked a little; but as soon as she had arranged her things, I began to undress her: when her chemise fell, all glowing with my caressings she asked: “You really like that?” and she put her hand over her sex, standing there naked like a Greek Venus. “Naturally”, I exclaimed, “and these too” and I kissed and sucked her nipples till they grew rosy-red.

“Is it possible to do it—standing up?” she asked in some confusion. “Of course”, I replied, “let’s try! But what put that into your head?”

“I saw a man and girl once behind the Church near our house!” she whispered, “and I wondered how—” and she blushed rosily. As I got into her, I felt difficulty: her pussy was really small and this time seemed hot and dry: I felt her wince and at once withdrew: “does it still hurt, Kate?” I asked.

“A little at first,” she replied; “but I don’t mind”, she hastened to add, “I like the pain!”

By way of answer I slipped my arms around her under her bottom and carried her to the bed: “I will not hurt you tonight”, I said, “I’ll make you give down your love-juice first and then there’ll be no pain.” A few kisses and she sighed: “I’m wet now”, and I got into bed and put my sex against hers. “I’m going to leave everything to you”, I said, “but please don’t hurt yourself.” She put her hand down to my sex and guided it in sighing a little with satisfaction as bit by bit it slipped home.

After the first ecstasy I got her to use the syringe while I watched her curiously. When she came back to bed, “No danger now”, I cried, “no danger, my love is queen!”

“You darling lover!” she cried, her eyes wide as if in wonder, “my sex throbs and itches and oh! I feel prickings on the inside of my thighs: I want you dreadfully, Frank”, and she stretched out as she spoke, drawing up her knees.

I got on top of her and softly, slowly let my sex slide into her and then began the love-play. When my second orgasm came, I indulged myself with quick, short strokes, though I knew that she preferred the long, slow movement, for I was resolved to give her every sensation this golden night. When she felt me begin again the long slow movement she loved, she sighed two or three times and putting her hands on my buttocks drew me close; but otherwise made little sign of feeling for perhaps half an hour. I kept right on: the slow movement now gave me but little pleasure: it was rather a task than a joy; but I was resolved to give her a feast. I don’t know how long the bout lasted: but once I withdrew and began rubbing her clitoris and the front of her sex, and panting she nodded her head and rubbed herself ecstatically against my sex, and after I had begun the slow movement again: “please, Frank!” she gasped, “I can’t stand more: I’m going crazy—choking!”

Strange to say, her words excited me more than the act: I felt my spasm coming and roughly, savagely I thrust in my sex at the same time kneeling between her legs so as to be able to play back and forth on her tickler as well. “I’ll ravish you!” I cried and gave myself to the keen delight. As my seed spirted, she didn’t speak, but lay there still and white; I jumped out of the bed, got a spongeful of cold water and used it on her forehead. At once to my joy she opened her eyes: “I’m sorry”, she gasped, and took a drink of water, “but I was so tired, I must have slept. You dear heart!” When I had put down the sponge and glass, I slipped into her again and in a little while she became hysterical: “I can’t help crying, Frank love”, she sighed, “I’m so happy, dear! You’ll always love me? Won’t you? sweet!” Naturally I reassured her with promises of enduring affection and many kisses; finally I put my left arm round her neck and so fell asleep with my head on her soft breast.

In the morning we ran another course, though sooth to say, Kate was more curious than passionate.

“I want to study you!” she said and took my sex in her hands and then my balls: “What are they for?” she asked and I had to explain that that was where my seed was secreted: she made a face, so I added, “You have a similar manufactory, my dear; but it’s inside you, the ovaries they are called, and it takes them a month to make one egg whereas my balls make millions of tadpoles in an hour. I often wonder why?”

After getting Kate an excellent breakfast, I put her in a cab and she reached her friend’s house just at the proper time; but the girl-friend could never understand how they had missed each other at the station.

I returned to Lawrence the same day, wondering what Fortune had in store for me! I was soon to find out that life could be disagreeable.

The University of Kansas had been established by the first Western outwanderers and like most pioneers they had brains and courage and accordingly they put in the statutes that there should be no religious teaching of any kind in the University, still less should religion ever be exalted into a test or qualification.

But in due course Yankees from New England swarmed out to prevent Kansas from being made into a slave-state and these Yankees were all fanatical so-called Christians belonging to every known sect; but all distinguished or rather deformed by an intolerant bigotry in matters of religion and sex. Their honesty was by no means so pronounced: each sect had to have its own professor; thus history got an Episcopalian clergyman who knew no history, and Latin a Baptist who, when Smith greeted him in Latin, could only blush and beg him not to expose his shameful ignorance; the lady who taught French was a joke but a good Methodist, I believe, and so forth and so on: education degraded by sectarian jealousies.

As soon as Professor Smith left the University, the Faculty passed a resolution establishing “College Chapel” in imitation of an English University custom. At once I wrote to the Faculty protesting and citing the Statutes of the Founders. The Faculty did not answer my letter; but instituted roll-call instead of chapel and when they got all the students assembled for roll-call, they had the doors locked and began prayers, ending with a hymn.

After the roll-call I got up and walked to the door and tried in vain to open it. Fortunately the door on this side the hall was only a makeshift structure of thin wooden planks. I stepped back a pace or two and appealed again to the Professors seated on the platform: when they paid no heed, I ran and jumped with my foot against the lock; it sprang and the door flew open with a crash.

Next day by an unanimous vote of the Faculty, I was expelled from the University and was free to turn all my attention to law. Judge Stevens told me he would bring action on my behalf against the Faculty if I wished and felt sure he’d get damages and reinstate me. But the University without Smith meant less than nothing to me and why should I waste time fighting brainless bigots? I little knew then that that would be the main work of my life; but this first time I left my enemies the victory and the field, as I probably shall at long last.

I made up my mind to study law and as a beginning induced Barker of Barker & Sommerfeld to let me study in his law office. I don’t remember how I got to know them; but Barker, an immensely fat man, was a famous advocate and very kind to me for no apparent reason. Sommerfeld was a tall, fair, German-looking Jew, peculiarly inarticulate, almost tongue-tied, indeed, in English; but an excellent lawyer and a kindly, honest man who commanded the respect of all the Germans and Jews in Douglas County partly because his fat little father had been one of the earliest settlers in Lawrence and one of the most successful tradesmen. He kept a general provision store and had been kind to all his compatriots in their early struggling days.

It was an admirable partnership: Sommerfeld had the clients and prepared the briefs; while Barker did the talking in court with a sort of invincible good humor which I never saw equalled save in the notorious Englishman, Bottomley. Barker before a jury used to exude good-nature and commonsense and thus gain even bad cases. Sommerfeld, I’ll tell more about in due time.

A little later I got depressing news from Smith: his cough had not diminished and he missed our companionship: there was a hopelessness in the letter which hurt my very heart: but what could I do? I could only keep on working hard at law, while using every spare moment to increase my income by adding to my hoardings in two senses.

One evening I almost ran into Lily. Kate was still away in Kansas City, so I stopped eagerly enough to have a talk, for Lily had always interested me. After the first greetings she told me she was going home: “they are all out, I believe”, she added. At once I offered to accompany her and she consented. It was early in summer but already warm, and when we went into the parlor and Lily took a seat on the sofa, her thin white dress defined her slim figure seductively.

“What do you do?” she asked mischievously, “now that dear Mrs. Mayhew’s gone? You must miss her!” she added suggestively.

“I do,” I confessed boldly; “I wonder if you’d have pluck enough to tell me the truth?” I went on.

“Pluck?” She wrinkled her forehead and pursed her large mouth; “Courage, I mean”, I said.

“Oh, I have courage!” she rejoined.

“Did you ever come upstairs to Mrs. Mayhew’s bedroom”, I asked, “when I had gone up for a book?” The black eyes danced and she laughed knowingly.

“Mrs. Mayhew said that she had taken you upstairs to bathe your poor head after dancing”, she retorted disdainfully, “but I don’t care: it’s nothing to do with me what you do!”

“It has too,” I went on, carrying the war into her country. “How?” she asked.

“Why, the first day you went away and left me though I was really ill”, I said, “so I naturally believed that you disliked me though I thought you lovely!”

“I’m not lovely,” she said, “my mouth’s too big and I’m too slight.”

“Don’t malign yourself,” I replied earnestly, “that’s just why you are seductive and excite a man.”

“Really?” she cried, and so the talk went on while I cudgeled my brains for an opportunity but found none and all the while was in fear lest her father and mother should return. At length angry with myself, I got up to go on some pretext and she accompanied me to the stoop. I said “Good-bye” on the top step and then jumped down by the side with a prayer in my heart that she’d come a step or two down and she did. There she stood, her hips on a level with my mouth; in a moment my hands went up her dress, the right to her sex, the left to her bottom behind to hold her: the thrill as I touched her half-fledged sex was almost painful in intensity. Her first movement brought her sitting down on the step above me and at once my finger was busy in her slit.

“How dare you!” she cried, but not angrily, “take your hand away!”

“Oh, how lovely your sex is!” I exclaimed as if astounded, “Oh, I must see it and have you, you miracle of beauty!” and my left hand drew down her head for a long kiss while my middle finger still continued its caress. Of a sudden her lips grew hot and at once I whispered.

“Won’t you love me, dear? I want you so: I’m burning and itching with desire (I knew she was!) Please, I won’t hurt you and I’ll take care; please, love, no one will know”, and the end of it was that right there on the porch I drew her to me and put my sex against hers and began the rubbing of her tickler and front part of her sex that I knew would excite her. In a moment she came and her love-dew wet my sex and excited me terribly; but I kept on frigging her with my manroot while restraining myself from coming by thinking of other things, till she kissed me of her own accord and suddenly moving forward pushed my prick right into her pussy.

To my astonishment, there was no obstacle, no maidenhead to break through, though her sex itself was astonishingly small and tight. I didn’t scruple then to let my seed come, only withdrawing to the lips and rubbing her clitoris the while, and as soon as my spirting ceased, my root glided again into her and continued the slow in-and-out movement till she panted with her head on my shoulder and asked me to stop. I did as she wished, for I knew I had won another wonderful mistress.

We went into the house again for she insisted I should meet her father and mother, and while we were waiting she showed me her lovely tiny breasts, scarcely larger than small apples, and I became aware of something childish in her mind which matched the childish outlines of her lovely, half-formed hips and pussy.

“I thought that you were in love with Mrs. Mayhew,” she confessed, “and I couldn’t make out why she made such funny noises; but now I know”, she added, “you naughty dear; for I felt my heart fluttering just now and I was nearly choking—”

I don’t know why; but that ravishing of Lily made her dear to me: I resolved to see her naked and to make her thrill to ecstasy as soon as possible, and then and there we made a meeting-place on the far side of the church, whence I knew I could bring her to my room at the Gregory’s in a minute, and then I went home, for it was late and I didn’t particularly want to meet her folks.

The next night I met Lily by the church and took her to my room: she laughed aloud with delight as we entered; for indeed she was almost like a boy of bold, adventurous spirit. She confessed to me that my challenge of her pluck had pleased her intimately:

“I never took a ‘dare’!” she cried in her American slang, tossing her head.

“I’ll give you two,” I whispered, “right now: the first is, I dare you to strip naked as I’m going to do, and I’ll tell you the other when we’re in bed.” Again she tossed her little blue-black head: “pooh!” she cried, “I’ll be undressed first”, and she was. Her beauty made my pulses hammer and parched my mouth. No one could help admiring her: she was very slight, with tiny breasts, as I have said, flat belly and straight flanks and hips: her triangle was only brushed in, so to speak, with fluffy soft hairs, and as I held her naked body against mine, the look and feel of her exasperated my desire. I still admired Kate’s riper, richer, more luscious outlines; her figure was nearer my boyish ideal; but Lily represented a type of adolescence destined to grow on me mightily. In fact as my youthful virility decreased, my love of opulent feminine charms diminished, and I grew more and more to love slender, youthful outlines with the signs of sex rather indicated than pronounced. What an all-devouring appetite Rubens confesses with the great, hanging breasts and uncouth fat pink bottoms of his Venuses!

I lifted Lily on to the bed and separated her legs to study her pussy. She made a face at me; but as I rubbed my hot sex against her little button that I could hardly see, she smiled and lay back contentedly. In a minute or two her love-juice came and I got into bed on her and slipped my root into her small cunt: even when the lips were wide open it was closed to the eye and this and her slim nakedness excited me uncontrollably. I continued the slow movements for a few minutes; but once she moved her sex quickly down on mine as I drew out to the lips, and gave me an intense thrill: I felt my seed coming and I let myself go in short, quick thrusts that soon brought on my spasm of pleasure and I lifted her little body against mine and crushed my lips on hers: she was strangely tantalizing, exciting like strong drink.

I took her out of bed and used the syringe in her, explaining its purpose, and then went to bed again and gave her the time of her life! Lying between her legs but side by side an hour later, I dared her to tell me how she had lost her maidenhead. I had to tell her first what it was. She maintained stoutly that no “feller” had ever touched her except me and I believed her, for she admitted having caressed herself ever since she was ten: at first she could not even get her forefinger into her pussy she told me. “What are you now?” I asked. “I shall be sixteen next April”, was her reply.

About eleven o’clock she dressed and went home, after making another appointment with me.

The haste of this narrative has many unforeseen drawbacks: it makes it appear as if I had had conquest after conquest and little or no difficulty in my efforts to win love. In reality my half dozen victories were spread out over nearly as many years, and time and again I met rebuffs and refusals quite sufficient to keep even my conceit in decent bounds. But I want to emphasize the fact that success in love, like success in every department of life, falls usually to the tough man unwearied in pursuit. Chaucer was right when he makes his Old Wyfe of Bath confess:

           And by a close attendance and attention
           Are we caught, more or less the truth to mention.

It is not the handsomest man or the most virile who has most success with women, though both qualities smooth the way; but that man who pursues them most assiduously, flatters them most constantly and cleverly, and always insists on taking the girl’s “No” for consent, her reproofs for endearments and even a little crossness for a new charm.

Above all, it is necessary to push forward after every refusal, for as soon as a girl refuses, she is apt to regret and may grant then what she expressly denied the moment before. Yet I could give dozens of instances where assiduity and flattery, love-looks and words were all ineffective, so much so that I should never say with Shakespeare: “he’s not a man who cannot win a woman.” I have generally found, too, that the easiest to win were the best worth winning for me, for women have finer senses for suitability in love than any man.

Now for an example of one of my many failures which took place when I was still a student and had fair opportunity to succeed.

It was a custom in the University for every professor to lecture for forty-five minutes, thus leaving each student fifteen minutes at least free to go back to his private class-room to prepare for the next lecture. All the students took turns to use these classrooms for their private pleasure. For example, from 11:45 to noon each day I was supposed to be working in the Junior Class-room and no student would interfere with me or molest me in any way.

One day, a girl Fresher, Grace Weldon by name, the daughter of the owner of the biggest department store in Lawrence, came to Smith when Miss Stevens and I were with him, about the translation of a phrase or two in Xenophon.

“Explain it to Miss Weldon, Frank!” said Smith and in a few moments I had made the passage clear to her. She thanked me prettily and I said, “If you ever want anything I can do, I’ll be happy to make it clear to you, Miss Weldon; I’m in the Junior class-room from 11:45 to noon always.”

She thanked me and a day or two later came to me in the class-room with another puzzle and so our acquaintance ripened. Almost at once she let me kiss her; but as soon as I tried to put my hand up her clothes, she stopped me. We were friends for nearly a year, close friends, and I remember trying all I knew one Saturday when I spent the whole day with her in our class-room, till dusk came and I could not get her to yield.

The curious thing was I could not even soothe the smart to my vanity with the belief that she was physically cold: on the contrary she was very passionate; but she had simply made up her mind and would not change.

That Saturday in the class-room she told me if she yielded she would hate me: I could see no sense in this, even though I was to find out later what a terrible weapon the Confessional is as used by Irish Catholic Priests. To commit a sin is easy; to confess it to your priest is for many women an absolute deterrent.

A few days later, I think, I got a letter from Smith that determined me to go to Philadelphia as soon as my hoardings provided me with sufficient money. I wrote and told him I’d come and cheered him up: I had not long to wait.

Early that fall Bradlaugh came to lecture in Liberty Hall on the French Revolution—a giant of a man with a great head, rough-hewn, irregular features and stentorian voice: no better figure of a rebel could be imagined. I knew he had been an English private soldier for a dozen years; but I soon found that in spite of his passionate revolt against the Christian religion and all its cheap moralistic conventions, he was a convinced individualist and saw nothing wrong in the despotism of Money which had already established itself in Britain, though condemned by Carlyle at the end of his “French Revolution” as the vilest of all tyrannies.

Bradlaugh’s speech taught me that a notorious and popular man, earnest and gifted, too, and intellectually honest might be fifty years before his time in one respect and fifty years behind the best opinion of the age in another province of thought. In the great conflict of our day between the “Haves” and the “Have-nots”, Bradlaugh played no part whatever: he wasted his great powers in a vain attack on the rotten branches of the Christian tree, while he should have assimilated the spirit of Jesus and used it to gild his loyalty to truth.

About this time Kate wrote that she would not be back for some weeks: she declared she was feeling another woman; I felt tempted to write, “So am I, stay as long as you please”; but instead I wrote an affectionate, tempting letter; for I had a real affection for her, I discovered.

When she returned a few weeks later, I felt as if she were new and unknown and I had to win her again; but as soon as my hand touched her sex, the strangeness disappeared and she gave herself to me with renewed zest.

I teased her to tell me just what she felt and at length she consented. “Begin with the first time” I begged, “and then tell what you felt in Kansas City.”

“It will be very hard”, she said, “I’d rather write it for you.” “That’ll do just as well”, I replied, and here is the story she sent me the next day.

[Illustration]

“I think the first time you had me,” she began “I felt more curiosity than desire: I had so often tried to picture it all to myself. When I saw your sex, I was astonished, for it looked very big to me and I wondered whether you could really get it into my sex which I knew was just big enough for my finger to go in. Still I did want to feel your sex pushing into me, and your kisses and the touch of your hand on my sex made me even more eager. When you slipped the head of your sex into mine, it hurt dreadfully; it was almost like a knife cutting into me, but the pain for some reason seemed to excite me and I pushed forward so as to get you further in me; I think that’s what broke my maidenhead. At first I was disappointed because I felt no thrill, only the pain; but when my sex became all wet and open and yours could slip in and out easily, I began to feel real pleasure. I liked the slow movement best; it excited me to feel the head of your sex just touching the lips of mine and when you pushed in slowly all the way, it gave me a gasp of breathless delight; when you drew your sex out, I wanted to hold it in me. And the longer you kept on, the more pleasure you gave me. For hours afterwards my sex was sensitive; if I rubbed it ever so gently, it would begin to itch and burn.

“But that night in the hotel at Kansas City I really wanted you and the pleasure you gave me then was much keener than the first time. You kissed and caressed me for a few minutes and I soon felt my love-dew coming and the button of my sex began to throb. As you thrust your shaft in and out of me, I felt such a strange sort of pleasure: every little nerve on the inside of my thighs and belly seemed to thrill and quiver: it was almost a feeling of pain. At first the sensation was not so intense, but when you stopped and made me wash, I was shaken by quick, short spasms in my thighs and my sex was burning and throbbing; I wanted you more than ever.

“When you began the slow movement again, I felt the same sensations in my thighs and belly, only more keenly, and as you kept on, the pleasure became so intense that I could scarcely bear it. Suddenly you rubbed your sex against mine and my button began to throb: I could almost feel it move. Then you began to move your sex quickly in and out of me; in a moment I was breathless with emotion and I felt so faint and exhausted that I suppose I fell asleep for a few minutes, for I knew nothing more till I felt the cold water trickling down my face. When you began again, you made me cry; perhaps because I was all dissolved in feeling and too, too happy. Ah, love is divine: isn’t it?”

Kate was really of the highest woman-type, mother and mistress in one. She used to come down and spend the night with me oftener than ever and on one of these occasions she found a new word for her passion: she declared she felt her womb move in yearning for me when I talked my best or recited poetry to her in what I had christened her Holy Week. Kate, it was, who taught me first that women could be even more moved and excited by words than by deeds: once, I remember, when I had talked sentimentally, she embraced me of her own accord and we had each other with wet eyes.

Another effect of Smith’s absence was important; for it threw me a good deal with Miss Stevens. I soon found that she had inherited the best of her father’s brains and much of his strength of character. If she had married Smith, she might have done something noteworthy: as it was, she was very attractive and well-read as a girl and would have made Smith, I am sure, a most excellent wife.

Once and once only I tried to hint to her that her sweetness to Smith might do him harm physically; but the suspicion of reproof made her angry and she evidently couldn’t or wouldn’t understand what I meant without a physical explanation, which she would certainly have resented. I had to leave her to what she would have called her daimon; for she was as prettily pedantic as Tennyson’s Princess, or any other mid-Victorian heroine.

Her brother Ned, too, I came to know pretty well. He was a tall, handsome youth with fine grey eyes: a good athlete, but of commonplace mind.

The father was the most interesting of the whole family, were it only for his prodigious conceit. He was of noble appearance: a large, handsome head with silver grey hairs setting off a portly figure well above middle height. In spite of his assumption of superiority, I felt him hide-bound in thought; for he accepted all the familiar American conventions, believing or rather knowing that the American people, “the good old New England stock in particular, were the salt of the earth, the best breed to be seen anywhere....”

It showed his brains that he tried to find a reason for this belief. “English oak is good”, he remarked one day sententiously, “but American hickory is tougher still. Reasonable, too, this belief of mine”, he added, “for the last glacial period skinned all the good soil off of New England and made it bitterly hard to get a living and the English who came out for conscience sake were the pick of the Old Country and they were forced for generations to scratch a living out of the poorest kind of soil with the worst climate in the world, and hostile Indians all round to sharpen their combativeness and weed out the weaklings and wastrels.”

There was a certain amount of truth in his contention; but this was the nearest to an original thought I ever heard him express and his intense patriotic fervor moved me to doubt his intelligence.

I was delighted to find that Smith rated him just as I did: “a first-rate lawyer, I believe”, was his judgment, “a sensible, kindly man.”

“A little above middle height”, I interpreted and Smith added smiling, “and considerably above average weight: he would never have done anything notable in literature or thought.”

As the year wore on, Smith’s letters called for me more and more insistently and at length I went to join him in Philadelphia.

[Illustration]




Chapter XIII. NEW EXPERIENCES.

                  Emerson, Walt Whitman, Bret Harte.




Smith met me at the station: he was thinner than ever and the wretched little cough shook him very often in spite of some lozenges that the doctor had given him to suck: I began to be alarmed about him and I soon came to the belief that the damp climate of the Quaker City was worse for him than the thin, dry Kansas air. But he believed in his doctors!

He boarded with a pleasant Puritan family in whose house he had also got me a room and at once we resumed the old life. But now I kept constant watch on him and insisted on rigorous self-restraint, tying up his unruly organ every night carefully with thread, which was still more efficient (and painful) than the whipcord. I also put a lump of ice near his bed so that he could end at once any thrill of sex. But now he didn’t improve quickly: it was a month before I could find any of the old vigor in him; but soon afterwards the cough diminished and he began to be his bright self again.

One of our first evenings I described to him the Bradlaugh lecture in much the same terms I have used in this narrative. Smith said: “Why don’t you write it? You ought to: the ‘Press’ would take it. You’ve given me an extraordinary, life-like portrait of a great man, blind, so to speak, in one eye, a sort of Cyclops. If he had been a Communist, how much greater he’d have been.”

I ventured to disagree and we were soon at it, hammer and tongs. I wanted to see both principles realised in life, individualism and Socialism, the centrifugal as well as the centripetal force and was convinced that the problem was how to bring these opposites to a balance which would ensure an approximation to justice and make for the happiness of all.

Smith on the other hand argued at first as an out-and-out Communist and follower of Marx; but he was too fair-minded to shut his eyes for long to the obvious. Soon he began congratulating me on my insight, declaring I had written a new chapter in economics.

His conversion made me feel that I was at long last his equal as a thinker, in any field where his scholarship didn’t give him too great an advantage: I was no longer a pupil but an equal and his quick recognition of the fact increased, I believe, our mutual affection. Though infinitely better read he put me forward in every company with the rarest generosity, asserting that I had discovered new laws in sociology. For months we lived very happily together but his Hegelianism defied all my attacks: it corresponded too intimately with the profound idealism of his own character.

As soon as I had written out the Bradlaugh story, Smith took me down to the “Press” office and introduced me to the chief editor, a Captain Forney: indeed the paper then was usually called “Forney’s Press” though already some spoke of it as “The Philadelphia Press.” Forney liked my portrait of Bradlaugh and engaged me as a reporter on the staff and occasional descriptive writer at fifty dollars a week, which enabled me to save all the money coming to me from Lawrence.

One day Smith talked to me of Emerson and confessed he had got an introduction to him and had sent it on to the philosopher with a request for an interview. He wished me to accompany him to Concord: I consented, but without any enthusiasm: Emerson was then an unknown name to me; Smith read me some of his poetry and praised it highly though I could get little or nothing out of it. When young men now show me a similar indifference, my own experience makes it easy for me to excuse them. They know not what they do! is the explanation and excuse for all of us.

One bright fall day Smith and I went over to Concord and next day visited Emerson. He received us in the most pleasant, courteous way: made us sit and composed himself to listen. Smith went off at score, telling him how greatly he had influenced his life and helped him with brave encouragement: the old man smiled benignantly and nodded his head, ejaculating from time to time: “Yes, yes!” Gradually Smith warmed to his work and wanted to know why Emerson had never expressed his views on sociology or on the relations between Capital and Labor. Once or twice the old gentleman cupped his ear with his hand; but all he said was: “Yes, Yes! or I think so” with the same benevolent smile.

I guessed at once that he was deaf; but Smith had no inkling of the fact for he went on probing, probing while Emerson answered pleasant nothings quite irrelevantly. I studied the great man as closely as I could. He looked about five feet nine or ten in height, very thin, attenuated even, and very scrupulously dressed: his head was narrow though long, his face bony; a long, high, somewhat beaked nose was the feature of his countenance:—a good conceit of himself, I concluded, and considerable will-power, for the chin was well-defined and large; but I got nothing more than this and from his clear steadfast gray eyes, an intense impression of kindness and good will, and why shouldn’t I say it? of sweetness even, as of a soul lifted high above earth’s carking cares and stragglings.

“A nice old fellow”, I said to myself, “but deaf as a post.”

Many years later his deafness became to me the symbol and explanation of his genius. He had always lived “the life removed” and kept himself unspotted from the world: that explains both his narrowness of sympathy and the height to which he grew! His narrow, pleasantly smiling face comes back to me whenever I hear his name mentioned.

But at the time I was indignant with his deafness and out of temper with Smith because he didn’t notice it and seemed somehow to make himself cheap. When we went away, I cried: “The old fool is as deaf as a post!” “Ah, that was the explanation then of his stereotyped smile and peculiar answers”, cried Smith, “how did you divine it?”

“He put his hand to his ear more than once”, I replied.

“So he did”, Smith exclaimed, “how foolish of me not to have drawn the obvious inference!”

It was in this fall, I believe, that the Gregorys went off to Colorado. I felt the loss of Kate a good deal at first; but she had made no deep impression on my mind and the new life in Philadelphia and my journalistic work left me but little time for regrets and as she never wrote to me, following doubtless her mother’s advice, she soon drifted out of my memory. Moreover, Lily was quite as interesting a lover and Lily too had begun to pall on me. The truth is, the fever of desire in youth is a passing malady that intimacy quickly cures. Besides, I was already in pursuit of a girl in Philadelphia who kept me a long time at arm’s length, and when she yielded I found her figure commonplace and her sex so large and loose that she deserves no place in this chronicle. She was modest, if you please, and no wonder. I have always since thought, that modesty is the proper fig-leaf of ugliness.

In the spring of this year 1875, I had to return to Lawrence on business connected with my hoardings. In several cases the owners of the lots refused to allow me to keep up the hoardings unless they had a reasonable share in the profits. Finally I called them all together and came to an amicable agreement to divide twenty-five percent of my profit among them, year by year.

I had also to go through my examination and get admitted to the Bar. I had already taken out my first naturalization papers and Judge Bassett of the District Court appointed the lawyers Barker and Hutchings to examine me. The examination was a mere form: they each asked me three simple questions: I answered them and we adjourned to the Eldridge House for supper and they drank my health in champagne. I was notified by Judge Bassett that I had passed the examination and told to present myself for admission on the 15th of June, I think, 1875.

To my surprise the court was half full. Judge Stevens even was present, whom I had never seen in court before. About eleven the Judge informed the audience that I had passed a satisfactory examination, had taken out my first papers in due form and unless some lawyer wished first to put questions to me to test my capacity, he proposed to call me within the Bar. To my astonishment Judge Stevens rose:

“With the permission of the Court”, he said, “I’d like to put some questions to this candidate who comes to us with high University commendation.” (No one had heard of my expulsion though he knew of it.) He then began a series of questions which soon plumbed the depths of my abysmal ignorance. I didn’t know what an action of account was at old English common law: I don’t know now, nor do I want to. I had read Blackstone carefully and a book on Roman law; Chitty on Evidence, too, and someone on Contracts—half a dozen books and that was all. For the first two hours Judge Stevens just exposed my ignorances: it was a very warm morning and my conceit was rubbed raw when Judge Bassett proposed an adjournment for dinner. Stevens consented and we all rose. To my surprise Barker and Hutchings and half a dozen other lawyers came round to encourage me: “Stevens is just showing off”, said Hutchings, “I myself couldn’t have answered half his questions!” Even Judge Bassett sent for me to his room and practically told me I had nothing to fear, so I returned at two o’clock, resolved to do my best and at all costs to keep smiling.

The examination continued in a crowded court till four o’clock and then Judge Stevens sat down. I had done better in this session; but my examiner had caught me in a trap on a moot point in the law of evidence and I could have kicked myself. But Hutchings rose as the senior of my two examiners who had been appointed by the Court, and said simply that now he repeated the opinion he had already had the honor to convey to Judge Bassett, that I was a fit and proper person to practice law in the State of Kansas.

“Judge Stevens”, he added, “has shown us how widely read he is in English common law; but some of us knew that before and in any case his erudition should not be made a purgatory to candidates: it looks”, he went on, “as if he wished to punish Mr. Harris for his superiority to all his classmates in the University.

“Impartial persons in this audience will admit”, he concluded, “that Mr. Harris has come brilliantly out of an exceedingly severe test and I have the pleasant task of proposing, your Honor, that he now be admitted within the Bar, though he may not be able to practice till he becomes a full citizen two years hence.”

Everyone expected that Barker would second this proposal; but while he was rising, Judge Stevens began to speak.

“I desire”, he said, “to second that proposal; and I think I ought to explain why I subjected Mr. Harris to a severe examination in open court. Since I came to Kansas from the State of New York twenty-five years ago, I have been asked a score of times to examine one candidate or another. I always refused: I did not wish to punish Western candidates by putting them against our Eastern standards. But here at long last appears a candidate who has won honor in the University to whom, therefore, a stiff examination in open court can only be a vindication, and accordingly I examined Mr. Harris as if he had been in the State of New York; for surely Kansas too has come of age and its inhabitants cannot wish to be humored as inferiors.

“This whole affair”, he went on, “reminds me of a story told in the east of a dog-fancier. The father lived by breeding and training bull-dogs. One day he got an extraordinarily promising pup and the father and son used to hunker down, shake their arms at the pup and thus encourage him to seize hold of their coat-sleeves and hang on. While engaged in this game once, the bull-pup, grown bold by constant praise, sprang up and seized the father by the nose. Instinctively the old man began to choke him off but the son exclaimed:

“‘Don’t, father, don’t, for God’s sake! it may be hard on you, but it’ll be the making of the pup’. So my examination, I thought, might be hard on Mr. Harris; but it would be the making of him.”

The Court roared and I applauded merrily. Judge Stevens continued: “I desire, however, to show myself not an enemy but a friend of Mr. Harris whom I have known for some years. Mr. Hutchings evidently thinks that Mr. Harris must wait two years in order to become a citizen of the United States. I am glad from my reading of the Statute laws of my country to be able to assure him that Mr. Harris need not wait a day. The law says that if a minor has lived three years in any state, he may on coming of age choose to become a citizen of the United States, and if Mr. Harris chooses to be one of us, he can be admitted at once as a citizen and if your Honor approve, be allowed also to practice law tomorrow.”

He sat down amid great applause, in which I joined most heartily. So on that day I was admitted to practice law as a full-fledged citizen. Unluckily for me, when I asked the Clerk of the Court for my full papers, he gave me the certificate of my admission to practice law in Lawrence, saying that as this could only be given to a citizen, it in itself was sufficient.

Forty odd years later the government of Woodrow Wilson refused to accept this plain proof of my citizenship and thus put me to much trouble by forcing me to get naturalized again!

But at the moment in Lawrence I was all cock-a-hoop and forthwith took a room on the same first floor where Barker & Sommerfeld had their offices, and put out my shingle.

I have told this story of my examination at great length because I think it shows as in a glass the amenities and deep kindness of the American character.

A couple of days later I was again in Philadelphia.

Towards the end of this year 1875, I believe, or the beginning of 1876, Smith drew my attention to an announcement that Walt Whitman, the poet, was going to speak in Philadelphia on Thomas Paine, the notorious infidel, who according to Washington had done more to secure the independence of the United States than any other man. Smith determined to go to the meeting and if Whitman could rehabilitate Paine against the venomous attacks of Christian clergymen who had asserted without contradiction that Paine was a notorious drunkard and of the loosest character, he would induce Forney to let him write an exhaustive and forceful defence of Paine in “The Press.”

I felt pretty sure that such an article would never appear but I would not pour cold water on Smith’s enthusiasm. The day came, one of those villainous days common enough in Philadelphia in every winter: the temperature was about zero with snow falling whenever the driving wind permitted. In the afternoon Smith finally determined that he must not risk it and asked me to go in his stead. I consented willingly and he spent some hours in reading to me the best of Whitman’s poetry, laying especial stress, I remember, on “When lilacs last in the dooryard bloomed.” He assured me again and again that Whitman and Poe were the two greatest poets these States had ever produced and he hoped I would be very nice to the great man.

Nothing could be more depressing than the aspect of the Hall that night: ill-lit and half-heated, with perhaps thirty persons scattered about in a space that would have accommodated a thousand. Such was the reception America accorded to one of its greatest spirits, though that view of the matter did not strike me for many a year.

I took my seat in the middle of the first row, pulled out my notebook and made ready. In a few minutes Whitman came on the platform from the left: he walked slowly, stiffly, which made me grin for I did not then know that he had had a stroke of paralysis and I thought his peculiar walk, a mere pose. Besides, his clothes were astonishingly ill-fitting and ill-suited to his figure. He must have been nearly six feet in height and strongly made, yet he wore a short jacket which cocked up behind in the perkiest way. Looked at from the front, his white collar was wide open and discovered a tuft of grey hairs, while his trousers that corkscrewed about his legs had parted company with his vest and disclosed a margin of dingy white shirt. His appearance filled me—poor little English snob that I was—with contempt: he recalled to my memory irresistibly an old Cochin-China rooster I had seen when a boy; it stalked across the farm-yard with the same slow, stiff gait and carried a stubby tail cocked up behind.

Yet a second look showed me Whitman as a fine figure of a man with something arresting in the perfect simplicity and sincerity of voice and manner. He arranged his notes in complete silence and began to speak very slowly, often pausing for a better word or to consult his papers, sometimes hesitating and repeating himself—clearly an unpracticed speaker who disdained any semblance of oratory. He told us simply that in his youth he had met and got to know very well a certain Colonel in the army who had known Thomas Paine intimately. This Colonel had assured him more than once that all the accusations against Paine’s habits and character were false—a mere outcome of Christian bigotry. Paine would drink a glass or two of wine at dinner like all well-bred men of that day; but he was very moderate and in the last ten years of his life the Colonel asserted that Paine never once drank to excess. The Colonel cleared Paine, too, of looseness of morals in much the same decisive way and finally spoke of him as invariably well-conducted, of witty speech and a vast fund of information, a most interesting and agreeable companion. And the Colonel was an unimpeachable witness, Whitman assured us, a man of the highest honor and most scrupulous veracity.

Whitman spoke with such uncommon slowness that I was easily able to take down the chief sentences in longhand: he was manifestly determined to say just what he had to say, neither more nor less—which made an impression of singular sincerity and truthfulness.

When he had finished, I went up on the platform to see him near at hand; and draw him out if possible. I showed him my card of the “Press” and asked him if he would kindly sign and thus authenticate the sentences on Paine he had used in his address.

“Aye, aye!” was all he said; but he read the half dozen sentences carefully, here and there correcting a word.

I thanked him and said Professor Smith, an Editor of the “Press”, had sent me to get a word-for-word report of his speech for he purposed writing an article in the “Press” on Paine, whom he greatly admired.

“Aye, aye!” ejaculated Whitman from time to time while his clear grey eyes absorbed all that I said. I went on to assure him that Smith had a profound admiration for him (Whitman), thought him the greatest American poet and regretted deeply that he was not well enough to come out that night and make his personal acquaintance.

“I’m sorry, too”, said Whitman slowly, “for your friend Smith must have something large in him to be so interested in Paine and in me.” Perfectly simple and honest Walt Whitman appeared to me, even in his self-estimate—an authentic great man!

I had nothing more to say, so hastened home to show Smith Whitman’s boyish signature and to give him a description of the man. The impression Whitman left on me was one of transparent simplicity and sincerity: not a mannerism in him, not a trace of affectation, a man simply sure of himself, most careful in speech; but careless of appearances and curiously, significantly free of all afterthoughts or regrets: a new type of personality which, strangely enough, has grown upon me more and more with the passing of the years and now seems to me to represent the very best in America, the large unruffled soul of that great people manifestly called and chosen to exert an increasingly important influence on the destinies of mankind. I would die happy if I could believe that America’s influence would be anything like as manful and true and clear-eyed as Whitman’s in guiding humanity; but alas!—

It would be difficult to convey to European readers any just notion of the horror and disgust with which Walt Whitman was regarded at that time in the United States on account merely of the sex-poems in “Leaves of Grass.” The poems to which objection could be taken, don’t constitute five per cent of the book and my objection to them is that in any normal man, love and desire take up a much larger proportion of life than five per cent. Moreover the expression of passion is tame in the extreme: nothing in the “Leaves of Grass” can compare with half a dozen passages in the Song of Solomon: think of the following verse:

         “I sleep but my heart waketh: it is the voice of
          my beloved that knocketh, saying, Open to me, my
          sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled: for my
          head is filled with dew and my locks with the drops
          of the night....
         “My beloved put his hand in by the hole of
          the door and my bowels were moved for him.”

And then the phrases: “her lips are like a thread of scarlet” … “her love like an army with banners”; but American puritanism is more timid even than its purblind teachers.

It was commonly said at the time that Whitman had led a life of extraordinary self-indulgence: rumor attributed to him half a dozen illegitimate children and perverse tastes to boot. I think such statements exaggerated or worse: they are no more to be trusted than the stories of Paine’s drunkenness. At any rate, Horace Traubel later declared to me that Whitman’s life was singularly clean and his own letter to John Addington Symonds must be held to have disproved the charge of homo-sexuality. But I dare swear he loved more than once not wisely but too well, or he would not have risked the reprobation of the “unco guid.” In any case, it is to his honor that he dared to write plainly in America of the joys of sexual intercourse. Emerson, as Whitman himself tells us, did his utmost all one long afternoon to dissuade him from publishing the sex-poems; but fortunately all his arguments served only to confirm Whitman in his purpose. From certain querulous complaints later, it is plain that Whitman was too ignorant to gauge the atrocious results to himself and his reputation of his daring; but the same ignorance that allowed him to use scores of vile neologisms, in this one instance stood him in good stead. It was right of him to speak plainly of sex; accordingly he set down the main facts, disdainful of the best opinion of his time. And he was justified; in the long run, it will be plain to all that he thus put the seal of the Highest upon his judgment. What can we think and what will the future think of Emerson’s condemnation of Rabelais whom he dared to liken to a dirty little boy who scribbles indecencies in public places and then runs away and his contemptuous estimate of Shakespeare as a ribald playwright, when in good sooth he was “the reconciler” whom Emerson wanted to acclaim and had not the brains to recognize.

Whitman was the first of great men to write frankly about sex and five hundred years hence, that will be his singular and supreme distinction.

Smith seemed permanently better though, of course, for the moment disappointed because his careful eulogy of Paine never appeared in the “Press”, so one day I told him I’d have to return to Lawrence to go on with my law work, though Thompson, the doctor’s son, kept all my personal affairs in good order and informed me of every happening. Smith at this time seemed to agree with me, though not enthusiastically, and I was on the point of starting when I got a letter from Willie, telling me that my eldest brother Vernon was in a New York hospital, having just tried to commit suicide and I should go to see him.

I went at once and found Vernon in a ward in bed: the surgeon told me that he had tried to shoot himself and that the ball had struck the jaw-bone at such an angle that it went all round his head and was taken out just above his left ear: “it stunned him and that was all; he can go out almost any day now.” The first glance showed me the old Vernon: he cried:

“Still a failure, you see, Joe: could not even kill myself though I tried!” I told him I had renamed myself, Frank; he nodded amicably smiling.

I cheered him up as well as I could, got lodgings for him, took him out of hospital, found work for him too and after a fortnight saw that I could safely leave him. He told me that he regretted having taken so much money from my father, “your share, I’m afraid, and Nita’s; but why did he give it me? He might just as well have refused me years ago as let me strip him; but I was a fool and always shall be about money: happy go lucky, I can take no thought for the morrow.”

That fortnight showed me that Vernon had only the veneer of a gentleman; at heart he was as selfish as Willie but without Willie’s power of work. I had over-estimated him wildly as a boy, thought him noble and well-read; but Smith’s real nobility, culture and idealism showed me that Vernon was hardly silver-gilt. He had nice manners and good temper and that was about all.

I stopped at Philadelphia on my way to Lawrence just to tell Smith all I owed him, which the association with Vernon had made clear to me. We had a great night and then for the first time he advised me to go to Europe to study and make myself a teacher and guide of men. I assured him he overestimated me, because I had an excellent verbal memory; but he declared that I had unmistakeable originality and singular fairness of judgment, and above all, a driving power of will that he had never seen equalled: “Whatever you make up your mind to do”, he concluded, “you will assuredly accomplish, for you are inclined to underrate yourself.” At the time I laughed, saying he didn’t even guess at my unlimited conceit, but his words and counsel sank into my mind and in due course exercised a decisive, shaping influence on my life.

I returned to Lawrence, put up a sofa-bed in my law-room and went to the Eldridge House nearby for my meals. I read law assiduously and soon had a few clients, “hard cases” for the most part, sent to me, I found out, by Judge Stevens and Barker, eager to foist nuisances on a beginner.

An old mulatto woman kept our offices tidy and clean for a few dollars monthly from each of us, and one night I was awakened by her groans and cries: she lived in a garret up two flights of stairs and was evidently suffering from indigestion and very much frightened, as colored folk are apt to be when anything ails them: “I’m gwine to die!” she told me a dozen times. I treated her with whisky and warm water, heated on my little gas-heater and sat with her till at length she fell asleep. She declared next day I had saved her life and she’d never forget it “Nebber, fo sure!” I laughed at her and forgot all about it.

Every afternoon I went over to Liberty Hall for an hour or so to keep in touch with events, though I left the main work to Will Thompson. One day I was delighted to find that Bret Harte was coming to lecture for us: his subject “The Argonauts of ’49”: I got some of his books from the bookstore kept by a lame man named Crew, I think, on Massachusetts Street, and read him carefully. His poetry did not make much impression on me, mere verse, I thought it; but “The Outcasts of Poker Flat” and other stories seemed to me almost masterpieces in spite of their romantic coloring and tinge of melodrama. Especially the description of Oakhurst, the gambler, stuck in my mind: it will be remembered that when crossing the “divide”, Oakhurst advised the party of outcasts to keep on travelling till they reached a place of safety. But he did not press his point: he decided it was hopeless and then came Bret Harte’s extraordinary painting phrase: “life to Oakhurst was at best an uncertain sort of game and he recognized the usual percentage in favor of the dealer.” There is more humor and insight in the one sentence than in all the ridiculously overpraised works of Mark Twain.

One afternoon I was alone in the box-office of Liberty Hall when Rose came in, as pretty as ever. I was delighted to renew our acquaintance and more delighted still to find that she would like tickets for Bret Harte’s lecture. “I didn’t know that you cared for reading, Rose?” I said, a little surprised.

“Professor Smith and you would make anybody read,” she cried, “at any rate you started me.” I gave her the tickets and engaged to take her for a buggy-ride next day. I felt sure Rose liked me; but she soon surprised me by showing a stronger virtue than I usually encountered.

She kissed me when I asked her in the buggy but told me at the same time that she didn’t care much for kissing: “all men”, she said, “are after a girl for the same thing; it’s sickening; they all want kisses and try to touch you and say they love you; but they can’t love and I don’t want their kisses.”

“Rose, Rose,” I said, “you mustn’t be too hard on us: we’re different from you girls and that’s all.”

“How do you mean?” she asked. “I mean that mere desire”, I said, “just the wish to kiss and enjoy you, strikes the man first; but behind that lust is often a good deal of affection, and sometimes a deep and sacred tenderness comes to flower; whereas the girl begins with the liking and affection and learns to enjoy the kissing and caressing afterwards.”

“I see”, she rejoined quietly, “I think I understand: I’m glad to believe that.”

Her unexpected depth and sincerity impressed me and I continued:

“We men may be so hungry that we will eat very poor fruit greedily because it’s at hand; but that doesn’t prove that we don’t prefer good and sweet and nourishing food when we can get it.” She let her eyes dwell on mine: “I see”, she said, “I see!”

And then I went on tell her how lovely she was and how she had made a deathless impression on me and I ventured to hope she liked me a little and would yet be good to me and come to care for me, and I was infinitely pleased to find that this was the right sort of talk and I did my best in the new strain. Three or four times a week I took her out in a buggy and in a little while I had taught her how to kiss and won her to confess that she cared for me, loved me indeed and bit by bit she allowed me the little familiarities of love.

One day I took her out early for a picnic and said, “I’ll play Turk and you must treat me” and I stretched myself out on a rug under a tree. She entered into the spirit of the game with zest, brought me food and at length, as she stood close beside me, I couldn’t control myself; I put my hand up her dress on her firm legs and sex. Next moment I was kneeling beside her: “Love me, Rose”, I begged, “I want you so: I’m hungry for you, dear!”

She looked at me gravely with wide-open eyes: “I love you too”, she said, “but oh! I’m afraid: be patient with me!” she added like a little girl. I was patient but persistent and I went on caressing her till her hot lips told me that I had really excited her.

My fingers informed me that she had a perfect sex and her legs were wonderfully firm and tempting, and in her yielding there was the thrill of a conscious yielding out of affection for me, which I find it hard to express. I soon persuaded her to come next day to my office. She came about four o’clock and I kissed and caressed her and at length in the dusk got her to strip. She had the best figure I had ever seen and that made me like her more than I would have believed possible; but I soon found when I got into her that she was not nearly as passionate as Kate even, to say nothing of Lily. She was a cool mistress but would have made a wonderful wife, being all self-sacrifice and tender, thoughtful affection: I have still a very warm corner in my heart for that lovely child-woman and am rather ashamed of having seduced her, for she was never meant to be a plaything or pastime.

But incurably changeable, I had Lily a day or two afterwards and sent Rose a collection of books instead of calling on her. Still I took her out every week till I left Lawrence and grew to esteem her more and more.

Lily, on the other hand, was a born “daughter of the game” to use Shakespeare’s phrase and tried to become more and more proficient at it: she wanted to know when and how she gave me most pleasure and really did her best to excite me. Besides, she soon developed a taste in hats and dresses and when I paid for a new outfit, she would dance with delight. She was an entertaining, light companion too and often found odd little naughty phrases that amused me. Her pet aversion was Mrs. Mayhew: she called her always “the Pirate”, because she said Lorna only liked “stolen goods” and wanted every man “to walk the plank into her bedroom.” Lily insisted that Lorna could cry whenever she wished; but had no real affection in her and her husband filled Lily with contempt: “a well-matched pair”, she exclaimed one day, “a mare and a mule, and the mare, as men say, in heat—all wet”, and she wrinkled her little nose in disgust.

At the Bret Harte lecture both Rose and Lily had seats and they both understood that I would go and talk with the great man afterwards.

I expected to get a great deal from the lecture and Harte’s advance agent had arranged that the hero of the evening should receive me in the Eldridge House after the address.

I was to call for him at the Hotel and take him across to the Hall. When I called, a middle-sized man came to meet me with a rather good-looking, pleasant smile and introspective, musing eyes. Harte was in evening dress that suited his slight figure and as he seemed disinclined to talk, I took him across to the Hall at once and hastened round to the front to note his entrance. He walked quite simply to the desk, arranged his notes methodically and began in a plain, conversational tone, “The Argonauts” and he repeated it, “The Argonauts of ’49.”

I noticed that there was no American nasal twang in his accent; but with the best of will, I can give no account of the lecture, just as I can give no portrait of the man. I recall only one phrase but think it probably the best: referring to the old-timers crossing the Great Plains, he said, “I am going to tell you of a new Crusade, a Crusade without a cross, an exodus without a prophet!”

[Illustration]

I met him ten years later in London when I had more self-confidence and much deeper understanding both of talent and genius; but I could never get anything of value out of Bret Harte, in spite of the fact that I had then and still keep a good deal of admiration for his undoubted talent. In London later I did my best to draw him out, to get him to say what he thought of life, death and the undiscovered country; but he either murmured commonplaces or withdrew into his shell of complete but apparently thoughtful silence.

The monotonous work and passionate interludes of my life were suddenly arrested by a totally unexpected happening. One day Barker came into my little office and stood there hiccoughing from time to time: “did I know any remedy for hiccoughs?” I only knew a drink of cold water usually stopped it.

“I’ve drunk every sort of thing,” he said, “but I reckon I’ll give it best and go home and if it continues, send for the doctor!” I could only acquiesce: next day I heard he was worse and in bed. A week later Sommerfeld told him I ought to call on poor Barker for he was seriously ill.

That same afternoon I called and was horrified at the change: the constant hiccoughing had shaken all the unwieldy mass of flesh from his bones; the skin of his face was flaccid, the bony outline showing under the thin folds. I pretended to think he was better and attempted to congratulate him; but he did not try even to deceive himself. “If they can’t stop it, it’ll stop me”, he said, “but no one ever heard of a man dying of hiccoughs and I’m not forty yet.”

The news came a few days later that he was dead—that great fat man!

His death changed my whole life, though I didn’t dream at the time it could have any effect upon me. One day I was in court arguing a case before Judge Bassett. Though I liked the man, he exasperated me that day by taking what I thought was a wrong view. I put my point in every light I could; but he wouldn’t come round and finally gave the case against me. When I had collected my papers and looked up, he was smiling:

“I shall take this case to the Supreme Court at my own expense”, I explained bitterly, “and have your decision reversed.”

“If you want to waste your time and money,” he remarked pleasantly, “I can’t hinder you.”

I went out of the court and suddenly found Sommerfeld beside me:

“You fought that case very well”, he said, “and you’ll win it in the Supreme Court, but you shouldn’t have told Bassett so, in his own—‘domain’”, I suggested, and he nodded.

When we got to our floor and I turned towards my office, he said, “Won’t you come in and smoke a cigar, I’d like a talk—”

Sommerfeld’s cigars were uniformly excellent and I followed him very willingly into his big, quiet office at the back that looked over some empty lots. I was not a bit curious; for a talk with Sommerfeld usually meant a rather silent smoke. This time, however, he had something to say and said it very abruptly:

“Barker’s gone,” he remarked in the air, and then: “Why shouldn’t you come in here and take his place?”

“As your partner?” I exclaimed. “Sure”, he replied, “I’ll make out the briefs in the cases as I did for Barker and you’ll argue them in court. For instance”, he added in his slow way, “there is a decision of the Supreme Court of the State of Ohio that decides your case today almost in your words, and if you had cited it, you’d have convinced Bassett”, and he turned and read out the report.

“The State of Ohio,” he went on, “is one of the four States, as you know, (I didn’t know it) that have adopted the New York Code—New York, Ohio, Kansas and California”—he proceeded, “the four States in a line across the continent; no one of these high courts will contradict the other. So you can be sure of your verdict—well, what do you say?” he concluded.

“I shall be delighted,” I replied at once, “indeed I am proud to work with you: I could have wished no better fortune.”

He held out his hand silently and the thing was settled.

Sommerfeld smoked a while in silence and then remarked casually, “I used to give Barker a hundred dollars a week for his household expenses: will that suit you?”

“Perfectly, perfectly”, I cried, “I only hope I shall earn it and justify your good opinion—”

“You are a better advocate than Barker even now,” he said, “but you have one—drawback”—he hesitated.

“Please go on,” I cried, “don’t be afraid, I can stand any criticism and profit by it—I hope.”

“Your accent is a little English, isn’t it?” he said, “and that prejudices both judge and jury against you, especially the jury: if you had Barker’s accent, you’d be the best pleader in the State—”

“I’ll get the accent,” I exclaimed, “you’re dead right: I had already felt the need of it; but I was obstinate, now I’ll get it: you may bet on that, get it within a week” and I did.

There was a lawyer in the town named Hoysradt who had had a fierce quarrel with my brother Willie. He had the most pronounced Western American accent I had ever heard and I set myself the task every morning and evening of imitating Hoysradt’s accent and manner of speech. I made it a rule too, to use the slow Western enunciation in ordinary speech and in a week, no one would have taken me for any one but an American.

Sommerfeld was delighted and told me he had fuller confidence in me than ever and from that time on our accord was perfect, for the better I knew him, the more highly I esteemed him: he was indeed able, hardworking, truthful and honest—a compact of all the virtues, but so modest and inarticulate that he was often his own worst enemy.

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Chapter XIV. WORK AND SOPHY.

Now began for me a most delightful time. Sommerfeld relieved me of nearly all the office work: I had only to get up the speeches, for he prepared the cases for me. My income was so large that I only slept in my office-room for convenience sake, or rather for my lechery’s sake.

I kept a buggy and horse at a livery stable and used to drive Lily or Rose out nearly every day. As Rose lived on the other side of the river, it was easy to keep the two separate and indeed neither of them ever dreamed of the other’s existence. I had a very soft spot in my heart for Rose: her beauty of face and form always excited and pleased me and her mind, too, grew quickly through our talks and the books I gave her. I’ll never forget her joy when I first bought a small bookcase and sent it to her home one morning, full of the books I thought she would like and ought to read.

In the evening she came straight to my office, told me it was the very thing she had most wanted and she let me study her beauties one by one; but when I turned her round and kissed her bottom, she wanted me to stop: “You can’t possibly like or admire that”, was her verdict.

“Indeed I do,” I cried; but I confessed to myself that she was right; her bottom was adorably dimpled; but it was a little too fat, and the line underneath it was not perfect. One of her breasts, too, was prettier than the other, though both were small and stuck out boldly; my critical sense could find no fault with her triangle or her sex; the lips of it were perfect, very small and rose-red and her clitoris was like a tiny, tiny button. I often wished it were half an inch long like Mrs. Mayhew’s. Only once in our intercourse did I try to bring her to ecstasy and only half succeeded; consequently I used simply to have her, just to enjoy myself and only now and then went on to a second orgasm so as really to warm her to the love-play; Rose was anything but sensual, though invariably sweet and an excellent companion. How she could be so affectionate though sexually cold was always a puzzle to me.

Lily, as I have said, was totally different: a merry little grig and born child of Venus: now and then she gave me a really poignant sensation. She was always deriding Mrs. Mayhew; but curiously enough, she was very like her in many intimate ways—a sort of understudy of the older and more passionate woman, with a child’s mischievous gaiety to boot and a childish joy in living.

But a great and new sensation was now to come into my life. One evening a girl without a hat on and without knocking came into my office. Sommerfeld had gone home for the night and I was just putting my things straight before going out; she took my breath; she was astoundingly good-looking, very dark with great, black eyes and slight, girlish figure: “I’m Topsy”, she announced and stood there smiling, as if the mere name told enough.

“Come in”, I said, “and take a seat: I’ve heard of you!” and I had.

She was a privileged character in the town: she rode on the street-cars and railroads too without paying; those who challenged her were all “pore white trash”, she said, and some man was always eager to pay for her: she never hesitated to go up to any man and ask him for a dollar or even five dollars—and invariably got what she wanted: her beauty was as compelling to men as her scornful aloofness. I had often heard of her as “that d—d pretty nigger girl!” but I could see no trace of any negro characteristic in her pure loveliness.

She took the seat and said with a faint Southern accent I found pleasing, “You’ name Harris?”

“That’s my name”, I replied smiling: “You here instead Barker?” she went on: “he sure deserved to die hiccuppin’: pore white trash!”

“What’s your real name?” I asked.

“They call me ‘Topsy’,” she replied, “but ma’ real true name is Sophy, Sophy Beveridge: you was very kind to my mother who lives upstairs: yes”, she went on defiantly, “she’s my mother and a mighty good mother too and don’t you fergit it!” she added, tossing her head in contempt of my astonishment.

“Your father must have been white!” I couldn’t help remarking for I couldn’t couple Topsy with the old octaroon, do what I would. She nodded, “he was white all right: that is, his skin was!” and she got up and wandered about the office as if it belonged to her. “I’ll call you, ‘Sophy’,” I said; for I felt a passionate revolt of injured pride in her. She smiled at me with pleasure.

I didn’t know what to do. I must not go with a colored girl: though I could see no sign of black blood in Sophy and certainly she was astonishingly good-looking even in her simple sprigged gown. As she moved about I could not but remark the lithe panther-like grace of her and her little breasts stuck out against the thin cotton garment with a most provocative allurement: my mouth was parching when she swung round on me; “You ondressing me”, she said smiling, “and I’se glad, ’cause my mother likes you and I loves her—sure pop!”

There was something childish, direct, innocent even about her frankness that fascinated me and her good looks made sunshine in the darkening room.

“I like you, Sophy”, I said, “but anyone would have done as much for your mother as I did. She was ill!”

“Hoo!” she snorted indignantly, “most white folk would have let her die right there on the stairs: I know them: they’d have been angry with her for groaning: I hate ’em!” and her great eyes glowered.

She came over to me in a flash:

“If you’d been American, I couldn’t never have come to you, never! I’d rather have died, or saved and stole and paid you—” the scorn in her voice was bitter with hate: evidently the negro question had a side I had never realised.

“But you’re different”, she went on, “an’ I just came—” and she paused, lifting her great eyes to mine, with an unspoken offer in their lingering regard.

“I’m glad”, I said lamely, staving off the temptation, “and I hope you’ll come again soon and we’ll be great friends—eh, Sophy?” and I held out my hand smiling; but she pouted and looked at me with reproach or appeal or disappointment in her eyes. I could not resist: I took her hand and drew her to me and kissed her on the lips, slipping my right hand the while up to her left breast: it was as firm as india-rubber: at once I felt my sex stand and throb: resolve and desire fought in me, but I was accustomed to make my will supreme:

“You are the loveliest girl in Lawrence”, I said, “but I must really go now: I have an appointment and I’m late.”

She smiled enigmatically as I seized my hat and went, not stopping even to shut or lock the office door.

As I walked up the street, my thoughts and feelings were all in a whirl: “Did I want her? Should I have her? Would she come again?

“Oh Hell! women are the very devil and he’s not so black as he’s painted! Black?”

That night I was awakened by a loud knocking at my office door; I sprang up and opened without thinking and at once Sophy came in laughing.

“What is it?” I cried half asleep still.

“I’se tired waiting”, she answered cheekily, “and anyways I just came.” I was about to remonstrate with her when she cried: “You go right to bed” and she took my head in her hands and kissed me. My wish to resist died out of me. “Come quickly!” I said getting into bed and watching her as she stripped. In a hand’s turn she had undressed to her chemise: “I reckon this’ll do”, she said coquettishly.

“Please take it off”, I cried and the next moment she was in my arms naked. As I touched her sex, she wound her arms round my neck and kissed me greedily with hot lips. To my astonishment her sex was well-formed and very small: I had always heard that negroes had far larger genitals than white people; but the lips of Sophy’s sex were thick and firm, “Have you ever been had, Sophy?” I asked.

“No, sir!” she replied, “I liked you because you never came after me and you was so kind and I thot that I’d be sure to do it sometime, so I’d rather let you have me than anyone else: I don’t like colored men”, she added, “and the white men all look down on me and despise me and I—I love you”, she whispered, burying her face on my neck.

“It’ll hurt you at first, Sophy, I’m afraid”; but she stilled all scruples with “Shucks, I don’t care: if I gives you pleasure, I’se satisfied” and she opened her legs, stretching herself as I got on her. The next moment my sex was caressing her clitoris and of herself she drew up her knees and suddenly with one movement brought my sex into hers and against the maiden barrier. Sophy had no hesitation: she moved her body lithely against me and the next moment I had forced the passage and was in her. I waited a little while and then began the love-game. At once Sophy followed my movements, lifting her sex up to me as I pushed in and depressing it to hold me as I withdrew. Even when I quickened, she kept time and so gave me the most intense pleasure, thrill on thrill, and as I came and my seed spirted into her, the muscle inside her vagina gripped my sex, heightening the sensation to an acute pang; she even kissed me more passionately than any other girl, licking the inside of my lips with her hot tongue. When I went on again with the slow in-and-out movements, she followed in perfect time and her trick of bending her sex down on mine as I withdrew and gripping it at the same time excited me madly: soon, of her own accord, she quickened while gripping and thrilling me till again we both spent together in an ecstasy.

“You’re a perfect wonder!” I cried to her then, panting in my turn, “but how did you learn so quickly?”

“I loves you”, she said, “so I do whatever I think you’d like and then I likes that too, see?” And her lovely face glowed against mine.

I got up to show her the use of the syringe and found we were in a bath of blood. In a moment she had stripped the sheet off: “I’ll wash that in the morning” she said laughing while doubling it into a ball and throwing it in the corner. I turned the gas on full: never was there a more seductive figure. Her skin was darkish, it is true; but not darker than that of an ordinary Italian or Spanish girl, and her form had a curious attraction for me: her breasts, small and firm as elastic, stood out provocatively; her hips, however, were narrower than even Lily’s though the cheeks of her bottom were full; her legs too were well-rounded, not a trace of the sticks of the negro; her feet even were slender and high-arched.

“You are the loveliest girl I’ve ever seen!” I cried as I helped to put in the syringe and wash her sex.

“You’re mah man!” she said proudly, “an’ I want to show you that I can love better than any white trash; they only gives themselves airs!”

“You are white”, I cried, “don’t be absurd!” She shook her little head: “if you knew!” she said, “when I was a girl, a child, old white men, the best in town, used to say dirty words to me in the street and try to touch me—the beasts!” I gasped: I had had no idea of such contempt and persecution.

When we were back in bed together: “tell me, Sophy dear, how you learned to move with me in time as you do and give me such thrills!”

“Hoo!” she cried, gurgling with pleased joy, “that’s easy to tell. I was scared you didn’t like me, so this afternoon I went to wise ole niggah woman and ask her how to make man love you really! She told me to go right to bed with you and do that”, and she smiled.

“Nothing more?” I asked: her eyes opened brightly, “Shu!” she cried, “if you want to do love again, I show you!” The next moment I was in her and now she kept even better time than at first and somehow or other the thick, firm lips of her sex seemed to excite me more than anyone had ever excited me. Instinctively the lust grew in me and I quickened and as I came to the short, hard strokes, she suddenly slipped her legs together under me and closing them tightly held my sex as in a firm grip and then began “milking” me—no other word conveys the meaning—with extraordinary skill and speed, so that in a moment I was gasping and choking with the intensity of the sensation and my seed came in hot jets while she continued the milking movement, tireless, indefatigable!

“What a marvel you are!” I exclaimed as soon as I got breath enough to speak, “the best bedfellow I’ve ever had, wonderful, you dear, you!”

All glowing with my praise, she wound her arms about my neck and mounted me as Lorna Mayhew had done once; but now what a difference! Lorna was so intent on gratifying her own lust that she often forgot my feelings altogether and her movements were awkward in the extreme; but Sophy thought only of me and, whereas Lorna was always slipping my sex out of her sheath, Sophy in some way seated herself on me and then began rocking her body back and forth while lifting it a little at each churning movement, so that my sex in the grip of her firm, thick lips had a sort of double movement. When she felt me coming as I soon did, she twirled half round on my organ half a dozen times with a new movement and then began rocking herself again, so that my seed was dragged out of me, so to speak, giving me indescribably acute, almost painful sensations. I was breathless thrilling with her every movement.

“Had you any pleasure, Sophy?” I asked as soon as we were lying side by side again.

“Shuah!” she said smiling, “you’re very strong, and you—” she asked, “was you pleased?”

“Great God!” I cried, “I felt as if all the hairs of my head were travelling down my backbone like an army! You are extraordinary, you dear!”

“Keep me with you, Frank”, she whispered, “if you want me, I’ll do anything, everything for you: I never hoped to have such a lover as you. Oh, this child’s real glad her breasties and sex please you. You taught me that word, instead of the nasty word all white folk use; ‘sex’ is good word, very good!” and she crowed with delight. “What do colored people call it?” I asked: “Coozie”, she replied smiling, Coozie! good word too, very good!

Long years later I heard an American story which recalled Sophy’s performance vividly.

An engineer with a pretty daughter had an assistant who showed extraordinary qualities as a machinist and was quiet and well behaved to boot. The father introduced his helper to his daughter and the match was soon arranged. After the marriage, however, the son-in-law drew away and ’twas in vain that the father-in-law tried to guess the reason of the estrangement. At length he asked his son-in-law boldly for the reason: “I meant right, Bill”, he began earnestly, “but if I’ve made a mistake I’ll be sorry: waren’t the goods accordin’ to specification? Warn’t she a virgin?”

“It don’t matter nothin’!” replied Bill, frowning.

“Treat me fair, Bill”, cried the father, “war she a virgin?”

“How can I tell?” exclaimed Bill, “all I can say is, I never know’d a virgin before that had that cinder-shifting movement.”

Sophy was the first to show me the “cinder-shifting” movement and she surely was a virgin!

As a mistress Sophy was perfection perfected and the long lines and slight curves of her lovely body came to have a special attraction for me as the very highest of the pleasure-giving type.

Lily first and then Rose were astonished and perhaps a little hurt at the sudden cooling off of my passion for them. From time to time I took Rose out or sent her books and I had Lily anywhere, any when; but neither of them could compare with Sophy as a bedfellow and her talk even fascinated me more, the better I knew her. She had learned life from the streets, from the animal side first; but it was astonishing how quickly she grew in understanding: love is the only magical teacher! In a fortnight her speech was better than Lily’s; in a month she talked as well as any of the American girls I had had; her desire of knowledge and her sponge-like ease of acquirement were always surprising me. She had a lovelier figure than even Rose and ten times the seduction even of Lily: she never hesitated to take my sex in her hand and caress it; she was a child of nature, bold with an animal’s boldness and had besides a thousand endearing familiarities. I had only to hint a wish for her to gratify it. Sophy was the pearl of all the girls I met in this first stage of my development and I only wish I could convey to the reader a suggestion even of her quaint, enthralling caresses. My admiration of Sophy cleansed me of any possible disdain I might otherwise have had of the negro people, and I am glad of it; for else I might have closed my heart against the Hindu and so missed the best part of my life’s experiences.

I have had a great artist make the sketch of her back which I reproduce at the end of this chapter: it conveys something of the strange vigor and nerve-force of her lovely firm body.

But it was written that as soon as I reached ease and content, the Fates would reshuffle the cards and deal me another hand.

First of all, there came a letter from Smith, telling me how he had got a bad wetting one night and had caught a severe cold. The cough then had returned and he was losing weight and heart. He had come to the conclusion, too, that I had reached, that the moist air of Philadelphia was doing him harm and the doctors now were beginning to urge him to go to Denver, Colorado: all the foremost specialists agreeing that mountain air was the best for his lung-weakness. If I couldn’t come to him, I must wire him and he’d stop in Lawrence to see me on his way West, he had much to say—

A couple of days later he was in the Eldridge House and I went to see him. His appearance shocked me: he had grown spectre thin and the great eyes seemed to burn like lamps in his white face. I knew at once that he was doomed and could scarcely control my tears.

We passed the whole day together and when he heard how I spent my days in casual reading and occasional speaking and my Topsy-turvey nights, he urged me to throw up the law and go to Europe to make myself a real scholar and thinker. But I could not give up Sophy and my ultra-pleasant life. So I resisted, told him he overrated me: I’d easily be the best advocate in the State, I said, and make a lot of money and then I’d go back and do Europe and study as well.

He warned me that I must choose between God and Mammon; I retorted lightly that Mammon and my senses gave me much that God denied: “I’ll serve both”, I cried, but he shook his head.

“I’m finished, Frank”, he declared at length, “but I’d regret life less if I knew that you would take up the work I once hoped to accomplish, won’t you?”

I couldn’t resist his appeal: “All right”, I said, after choking down my tears, “give me a few months and I’ll go, round the world first and then to Germany to study.”

He drew me to him and kissed me on the forehead: I felt it as a sort of consecration.

A day or so afterwards he took train for Denver and I felt as if the sun had gone out of my life.

I had little to do in Lawrence at this time except read at large and I began to spend a couple of hours every day in the town library. Mrs. Trask, the librarian, was the widow of one of the early settlers who had been brutally murdered during the Quantrell raid when Missourian bandits “shot up” the little town of Lawrence in a last attempt to turn Kansas into a slave-owning state.

Mrs. Trask was a rather pretty little woman who had been made librarian to compensate her in some sort for the loss of her husband. She was well-read in American literature and I often took her advice as to my choice of books. She liked me, I think, for she was invariably kind to me and I owe her many pleasant hours and some instruction.

After Smith had gone West I spent more and more time in the library for my law-work was becoming easier to me every hour. One day about a month after Smith had left, I went into the library and could find nothing enticing to read. Mrs. Trask happened to be passing and I asked her: “What am I to read?”

“Have you read any of that?” she replied pointing to Bohn’s edition of Emerson in two volumes. “He’s good!”

“I saw him in Concord”, I said, “but he was deaf and made little impression on me.”

“He’s the greatest American thinker”, she retorted, “and you ought to read him.”

Automatically I took down the volume and it opened of itself at the last page of Emerson’s advice to the scholars of Dartmouth College. Every word is still printed on my memory: I can see the left-hand page and read again that divine message: I make no excuse for quoting it almost word for word:

“Gentlemen, I have ventured to offer you these considerations upon the scholar’s place and hope, because I thought that standing, as many of you now do, on the threshold of this College, girt and ready to go and assume tasks, public and private, in your country, you would not be sorry to be admonished of those primary duties of the intellect whereof you will seldom hear from the lips of your new companions. You will hear every day the maxims of a low prudence. You will hear that the first duty is to get land and money, place and name. ‘What is this Truth you seek? what is this beauty!’ men will ask, with derision. If nevertheless God have called any of you to explore truth and beauty, be bold, be firm, be true. When you shall say, ‘As others do, so will I: I renounce, I am sorry for it, my early visions; I must eat the good of the land and let learning and romantic expectations go, until a more convenient season’;—then dies the man in you; then once more perish the buds of art, and poetry, and science, as they have died already in a thousand thousand men. The hour of that choice is the crisis of your history, and see that you hold yourself fast by the intellect. It is this domineering temper of the sensual world that creates the extreme need of the priests of science.... Be content with a little light, so it be your own. Explore, and explore. Be neither chided nor flattered out of your position of perpetual inquiry. Neither dogmatize, nor accept another’s dogmatism. Why should you renounce your right to traverse the star-lit deserts of truth, for the premature comforts of an acre, house, and barn? Truth also has its roof, and bed, and board. Make yourself necessary to the world, and mankind will give you bread, and if not store of it, yet such as shall not take away your property in all men’s affections, in art, in nature, and in hope.”

The truth of it shocked me: “then perish the buds of art and poetry and science in you as they have perished already in a thousand, thousand men!” That explained why it was that there was no Shakespeare, no Bacon, no Swinburne in America where, according to population and wealth there should be dozens.

There flashed on me the realization of the truth, that just because wealth was easy to get here, it exercised an incomparable attraction and in its pursuit “perished a thousand, thousand” gifted spirits who might have steered humanity to new and nobler accomplishment.

The question imposed itself: “Was I too to sink to fatness? wallow in sensuality, degrade myself for a nerve-thrill?”

“No!” I cried to myself, “ten thousand times, no! No! I’ll go and seek the star-lit deserts of Truth or die on the way!”

I closed the book and with it and the second volume of it in my hand went to Mrs. Trask.

“I want to buy this book”, I said, “it has a message for me that I must never forget!”

“I’m glad”, said the little lady smiling, “what is it?”

I read her a part of the passage: “I see”, she exclaimed, “but why do you want the books?”

“I want to take them with me”, I said, “I mean to leave Lawrence at once and go to Germany to study!”

“Good gracious!” she cried, “how can you do that? I thought you were a partner of Sommerfeld’s; you can’t go at once!”

“I must”, I said, “the ground burns under my feet: if I don’t go now, I shall never go: I’ll be out of Lawrence tomorrow!”

Mrs. Trask threw up her hands and remonstrated with me: such quick decisions were dangerous; “why should I be in such a hurry?”

I repeated time and again: “If I don’t go at once, I shall never go: ‘the ignoble pleasures’ will grow sweeter and sweeter to me and I shall sink gradually and drown in the mud-honey of life.”

Finally seeing I was adamant and my mind fixed: she sold me the books at full price with some demur, then she added:

“I almost wish I had never recommended Emerson to you!” and the dear lady looked distressed, almost on the verge of tears.

“Never regret that!” I cried, “I shall remember you as long as I live because of that and always be grateful to you. Professor Smith told me I ought to go; but it needed the word of Emerson to give me the last push! The buds of poetry and science and art shall not perish in me as they have ‘perished already in a thousand, thousand men!’ Thanks to you!” I added warmly, “all my best heart-thanks: you have been to me the messenger of high fortune.”

I clasped her hands, wished to kiss her, but foolishly feared to hurt her and so contented myself with a long kiss on her hand and went out at once to find Sommerfeld.

He was in the office and forthwith I told him the whole story, how Smith had tried to persuade me and how I had resisted till this page of Emerson had convinced me: “I am sorry to leave you in the lurch,” I explained; but “I must go and go at once.”

He told me it was madness: I could study German right there in Lawrence; he would help me with it gladly. “You mustn’t throw away a livelihood just for a word”, he cried, “it is madness, I never heard a more insane decision!”

We argued for hours: I couldn’t convince him any more than he could persuade me; he tried his best to get me to stay two years at any rate and then go with full pockets: “you can easily spare two years”, he cried, but I retorted, “not even two days: I’m frightened of myself.”

When he found that I wanted the money to go round the world with first, he saw a chance of delay and said I must give him some time to find out what was coming to me; I told him I trusted him utterly (as indeed I did) and could only give him the Saturday and Sunday, for I’d go on the Monday at the latest. He gave in at last and was very kind.

I got a dress and little hat for Lily and lots of books beside a chinchilla cape for Rose and broke the news to Lily next morning, keeping the afternoon for Rose. To my astonishment I had most trouble with Lily: she would not hear any reason: “There is no reason in it”, she cried again and again, and then she broke down in a storm of tears: “What will become of me?” she sobbed, “I always hoped you’d marry me!” she confessed at last, “and now you go away for nothing, nothing—on a wild-goose chase—to study”, she added in a tone of absolute disdain, “just as if you couldn’t study here!”

“I’m too young to marry, Lily,” I said, “and—”

“You were not too young to make me love you”, she broke in, “and now what shall I do? Even Mamma said that we ought to be engaged and I want you so,—oh! oh!” and again the tears fell in a shower.

I could not help saying at last that I would think it all over and let her know and away I went to Rose. Rose heard me out in complete silence and then with her eyes on mine in lingering affection, she said:

“Do you know, I’ve been afraid often of some decision like this. I said to myself a dozen times, ‘why should he stay here? the wider world calls him’ and if I feel inclined to hate my work because it prevents my studying, what must it be for him in that horrible court, fighting day after day? I always knew I should lose you, dear!” she added, “but you were the first to help me to think and read, so I must not complain. Do you go soon?”

“On Monday,” I replied, and her dear eyes grew sombre and her lips quivered. “You’ll write?” she asked, “please do, Frank! No matter what happens I shall never forget you: you’ve helped me, encouraged me more than I can say. Did I tell you, I’ve got a place in Crew’s bookstore? When I said I had learned to love books from you, he was glad and said ‘if you get to know them as well as he did, or half as well, you’ll be invaluable’; so you see, I am following in your footsteps, as you are following in Smith’s.”

“If you knew how glad I am that I’ve really helped and not hurt you, Rose?” I said sadly, for Lily’s accusing voice was still in my ears.

“You couldn’t hurt anyone,” she exclaimed, almost as if she divined my remorse, “you are so gentle and kind and understanding.”

Her words were balm to me and she walked with me to the bridge where I told her she would hear from me on the morrow. I wanted to know what she would think of the books and cape. The last thing I saw of her was her hand raised as if in benediction.

I kept the Sunday morning for Sommerfeld and my friend Will Thompson and the rest of the day for Sophy.

Sommerfeld came to the office before nine and told me the firm owed me three thousand dollars: I didn’t wish to take it; could not believe he had meant to go halves with me but he insisted and paid me.

“I don’t agree with your sudden determination,” he said, “perhaps because it was sudden; but I’ve no doubt you’ll do well at anything you take up. Let me hear from you now and again and if you ever need a friend, you know where to find me!”

As we shook hands I realised that parting could be as painful as the tearing asunder of flesh.

Will Thompson, I found, was eager to take over the hoardings and my position in Liberty Hall; he had brought his father with him and after much bargaining I conveyed everything I could, over to him for three thousand five hundred dollars, and so after four year’s work I had just the money I had had in Chicago four years earlier!

I dined in the Eldridge House and then went back to the office to meet Sophy who was destined to surprise me more even than Lily or Rose: “I’m coming with you,” she announced coolly, “if you’re not ashamed to have me along; you goin’ Frisco,—so far anyway—” she pleaded divining my surprise and unwillingness.

“Of course, I’ll be delighted,” I said, “but—” I simply could not refuse her.

She gurgled with joy and drew out her purse: “I’ve four hundred dollars”, she said proudly, “and that’ll take this child a long way.”

I made her put the money away and promise me she wouldn’t spend a cent of her money while we were together and then I told her how I wished to dress her when we got to Denver, for I wanted to stop there for a couple of days to see Smith who had written approving of everything I did and adding, to my heart’s joy, that he was much better.

On the Monday morning Sophy and I started westwards: she had had the tact to go to the depot first so that no one in Lawrence ever coupled our names. Sommerfeld and Judge Bassett saw me off at the depot and wished me “all luck!” And so the second stage of my life came to an end.

Sophy was a lively sweet companion; after leaving Topeka, she came boldly into my compartment and did not leave me again. May I confess it? I’d rather she had stayed in Lawrence; I wanted the adventure of being alone and there was a girl in the train whose long eyes held mine as I passed her seat, and I passed it often: I’d have spoken to her if Sophy had not been with me.

When we got to Denver, I called on Smith, leaving Sophy in the hotel. I found him better, but divined that the cursed disease was only taking breath, so to speak, before the final assault. He came back with me to my hotel and as soon as he saw Sophy, he declared I must go back with him, he had forgotten to give me something I must have. I smiled at Sophy to whom Smith was very courteous-kind and accompanied him. As soon as we were in the street, Smith began in horror:

“Frank, she’s a colored girl: you must leave her at once or you’ll make dreadful trouble for yourself later.” “How did you know she was colored?” I asked. “Look at her nails!” he cried, “and her eyes: no Southerner would be in doubt for a moment. You must leave her at once, please!”

“We are going to part at Frisco”, I said. And when he pressed me to send her back at once, I refused. I would not put such shame upon her and even now I’m sure I was right in that resolve.

Smith was sorry but kind to me and so we parted forever.

He had done more for me than any other man and now after fifty years I can only confess my incommensurable debt to him and the hot tears come into my eyes now as they came when our hands met for the last time: he was the dearest, sweetest, noblest spirit of a man I have met in this earthly pilgrimage. _Ave atque vale._

As the time drew on to the day when the boat was to start, Sophy grew thoughtful. I got her a pretty corn-colored dress that set off her beauty as golden sunlight a lovely woodland, and when she thanked and hugged me, I wanted to put my hand up her clothes for she had made a mischievous, naughty remark that amused me and reminded me we had driven all the previous day and I had not had her. To my surprise she stopped me: “I’ve not washed since we came in”, she explained.

“Do you wash so often?” “Shuah,” she replied, fixing me.

“Why?” I asked, searching her regard.

“Because I’m afraid of nigger-smell,” she flung out passionately—

“What nonsense!” I exclaimed.

“’Tain’t either”, she contradicted me angrily, “My mother took me once to negro-church and I near choked: I never went again; I just couldn’t: when they get hot, they stink—pah!” and she shook her head and made a face in utter disgust and contempt.

[Illustration]

“That’s why you goin’ to leave me”, she added after a long pause, with tears in her voice; “if it wasn’t for that damned nigger blood in me, I’d never leave you: I’d just go on with you as servant or anything: ah God, how I love you and how lonely this Topsy’ll be!” and the tears ran down her quivering face. “If I were only all white or all black,” she sobbed: “I’m so unhappy!” My heart bled for her.

If it had not been for the memory of Smith’s disdain, I would have given in and taken her with me. As it was, I could only do my best to console her by saying: “a couple of years, Sophy, and I’ll return; they’ll pass quickly: I’ll write you often, dear!”

But Sophy knew better and when the last night came, she surpassed herself. It was warm and we went early to bed: “it’s my night!” she said: “you just let me show you, you dear! I don’t want you to go after any whitish girl in those Islands till you get to China and you won’t go with those yellow, slit-eyed girls—that’s why I love you so, because you keep yourself for those you like:—but you’re naughty to like so many—ma man!” and she kissed me with passion: she let me have her almost without response, but after the first orgasm she gripped my sex and milked me, and afterwards mounting me made me thrill again and again till I was speechless and like children we fell asleep in each other’s arms, weeping for the parting on the morrow.

I said “Good-bye!” at the hotel and went on board the steamer by myself: my eyes set on the Golden Gate into the great Pacific and the hopes and hazards of the new life. At length I was to see the world: what would I find in it? I had no idea then that I should find little or much in exact measure to what I brought and it is now the saddest part of these Confessions that on this first trip round the world, I was so untutored, so thoughtless that I got practically nothing out of my long journeying.

Like Odysseus I saw many cities of men; but scenes seldom enrich the spirit: yet one or two places made a distinct impression on me, young and hard though I was: Sidney Bay and Heights, Hong Kong, too; but above all, the old Chinese gate leading into the Chinese City of Shanghai so close to the European town and so astonishingly different. Kioto, too, imprinted itself on my memory and the Japanese men and girls that ran naked out of their hot baths in order to see whether I was really white all over.

But I learned nothing worth recalling till I came to Table Bay and saw the long line of Table Mountain four thousand feet above me, a cliff cutting the sky with an incomparable effect of dignity and grandeur. I stayed in Cape Town a month or so, and by good luck I got to know Jan Hofmeyr there who taught me what good fellows the Boers really were and how highly the English Premier Gladstone was esteemed for giving freedom to them after Majuba: “we look on him with reverence” said my friend, Hofmeyr, “as the embodied conscience of England”; but alas! England could not stomach Majuba and had to spend blood and treasure later to demonstrate the manhood of the Boers to the world. But thank God, England then gave freedom and self-government again to South Africa and so atoned for her shameful “Concentration Camps.” Thanks to Jan Hofmeyr I got to know and esteem the South African Boer even on this first short acquaintance.

When I went round the world for the second time twenty years later, I tried to find the Hofmeyrs of every country and so learned all manner of things worthful and strange that I shall tell of, I hope, at the end of my next volume. For the only short cut to knowledge is through intercourse with wise and gifted men.

Now I must confess something of my first six months of madness and pleasure in Paris and then speak of England again and Thomas Carlyle and his incomparable influence upon me and so lead you, gentle render, to my later prentice years in Germany and Greece.

There in Athens I learned new sex-secrets which may perchance interest even the Philistines though they can be learned in Paris as well, and will be set forth simply in the second volume of these “Confessions”, which will tell the whole “art of love” as understood in Europe and perhaps contain my second voyage round the world and the further instruction in the great art which I received from the Adepts of the East—unimaginable refinements, for they have studied the body as deeply as the soul.

[Illustration]




Chapter XV. EUROPE AND THE CARLYLES

I returned to Europe touching at Bombay and getting just a whiff of the intoxicating perfume of that wonder-land with its noble, though sad, spiritual teaching which is now beginning through the Rig Veda to inform the best European thought.

I stopped too at Alexandria and ran up to Cairo for a week to see the great Mosques: I admired their splendid rhetoric; but fell in love with the desert and its Pyramids and above all with the Sphinx and her eternal questioning of sense and outward things. Thus by easy, memorable stages that included Genoa and Florence and their storied palaces and churches and galleries, I came at length to Paris.

I distrust first impressions of great places or events or men. Who could describe the deathless fascination of the mere name and first view of Paris to the young student or artist of another race! If he has read and thought, he will be in a fever; tears in his eyes, heart thrilling with joyful expectancy, he will wander into that world of wonders!

I got to the station early one summer morning and sent my baggage at once by fiacre to the Hotel Meurice in the rue Rivoli; the same old hotel that Lever the novelist had praised, and then I got into a little Victoria and drove to the Place de la Bastille. The obvious café life of the people did not appeal to me; but when I saw the Glory springing from the Column of July, tears flooded my eyes, for I recalled Carlyle’s description of the taking of the prison.

I paid the cocher and wandered up the rue Rivoli, past the Louvre, past the blackened walls with the sightless windows of the Tuileries palace—a regret in their desolate appeal, and so to the Place de la Gréve with its memories of the guillotine and the great revolution, now merged in the Place de la Concorde. Just opposite I could distinguish the gilt dome of the Church of the Invalides where the body of Napoleon lies as he desired: “On the banks of the Seine, in the midst of that French people I have loved so passionately!”

And there were the horses of Marly ramping at the entrance to the Champs Elysées and at the far end of the long hill, the Arch! The words came to my lips:

                  Up the long dim road where thundered
                The army of Italy onward
                  By the great pale arch of the Star.

It was the deep historic sense of this great people that first won me and their loving admiration of their poets and artists and guides. I can never describe the thrill it gave me to find on a small house a marble plaque recording the fact that poor de Musset had once lived there, and another on the house wherein he died. Oh, how right the French are to have a Place Malherbe, and Avenue Victor Hugo, an Avenue de la Grande Armée too, and an Avenue de L’Imperatrice as well, though it has since been changed prosaically into the Avenue du Bois de Boulogne.

From the Place de la Concorde I crossed the Seine and walked down the quays to the left, and soon passed the Conciergerie and Ste Chapelle with its gorgeous painted glass-windows of a thousand, years ago and there before me on the Ile de la Cité, the twin towers of Notre Dame caught my eyes and breath and finally, early in the afternoon I turned up the Boul’ Mich and passed the Sorbonne and then somehow or other lost myself in the old rue St. Jacques that Dumas père and other romance-writers had described for me a thousand times.

I little tired at length having left the Luxemburg gardens far behind with their statues which I promised myself soon to study more closely, I turned into a little wine-shop restaurant kept by a portly and pleasant lady whose name I soon learned was Marguerite. After a most excellent meal I engaged a large room on the first floor looking on the street, for forty francs a month, and if a friend came to live with me, why Marguerite promised with a large smile to put in another bed for an additional ten francs monthly and supply us besides with coffee in the morning and whatever meals we wanted at most reasonable prices: there I lived gaudy, golden days for some three heavenly weeks.

I threw myself on French like a glutton and this was my method, which I don’t recommend but simply record, though it brought me to understand everything said by the end of the first week. I first spent five whole days on the grammar, learning all the verbs, especially the auxiliary and irregular verbs by heart, till I knew them as I knew my Alphabet. I then read Hugo’s Hernani with a dictionary in another long day of eighteen hours and the next evening went to the gallery in the Comédie Française to see the play acted by Sarah Bernhardt as Doña Sol and Mounet Sully as Hernani. For a while the rapid speech and strange accent puzzled me; but after the first act I began to understand what was said on the stage and after the second act I caught every word and to my delight when I came out into the streets, I understood everything said to me. After that golden night with Sarah’s grave, _traînante_ voice in my ears, I made rapid because unconscious progress.

Next day in the restaurant I picked up a dirty torn copy of Madame Bovary that lacked the first eighty pages. I took it to my room and swallowed it in a couple of breathless hours, realising at once that it was a masterwork; but marking a hundred and fifty new words to turn out in my pocket dictionary afterwards. I learned these words carefully by heart and have never given myself any trouble about French since.

What I know of it and I know it fairly well now, has come from reading and speaking it for thirty odd years. I still make mistakes in it chiefly of gender, I regret to say, and my accent is that of a foreigner, but taking it by and large I know it and its literature and speak it better than most foreigners and that suffices me.

After some three weeks Ned Bancroft came from the States to live with me. He was never particularly sympathetic to me and I cannot account for our companionship save by the fact that I was peculiarly heedless and full of human, unreflecting kindness. I have said little of Ned Bancroft who was in love with Kate Stevens before she fell for Professor Smith; but I have just recorded the unselfish way he withdrew while keeping intact his friendship both for Smith and the girl: I thought that very fine of him.

He left Lawrence and the University shortly after we first met and by “pull” obtained a good position on the railroad at Columbus, Ohio.

He was always writing to me to come to visit him and on my return from Philadelphia, in 1875 I think, I stopped at Columbus and spent a couple of days with him. As soon as he heard that I had gone to Europe and had reached Paris, he wrote to me that he wished I had asked him to come with me and so I wrote setting forth my purpose and at once he threw up his good prospects of riches and honor and came to me in Paris. We lived together for some six months: he was a tall, strong fellow, with pale face and gray eyes; a good student, an honorable, kindly, very intelligent man; but we envisaged life from totally different sides and the longer we were together, the less we understood each other.

In everything we were antipodes; he should have been an Englishman for he was a born aristocrat with imperious, expensive tastes, while I had really become a Western American, careless of dress or food or position, intent only on acquiring knowledge and, if possible, wisdom in order to reach greatness.

The first evening we dined at Marguerite’s and spent the night talking and swapping news. The very next afternoon Ned would go into Paris and we dined in a swell restaurant on the Grand Boulevard. A few tables away a tall, splendid-looking brunette of perhaps thirty was dining with two men: I soon saw that Ned and she were exchanging looks and making signs. He told me he intended to go home with her: I remonstrated but he was as obstinate as Charlie, and when I told him of the risks he said he’d never do it again; but this time he couldn’t get out of it. “I’ll pay the bill at once”, I said, “and let’s go!” but he would not, desire was alight in him and a feeling of false shame hindered him from taking my advice. Half an hour later the lady made a sign and he went out with the party and when she entered her Victoria, he got in with her; the pair on the sidewalk, he said, bursting into laughter as he and the woman drove away together.

Next morning he was back with me early, only saying that he had enjoyed himself hugely and was not even afraid. Her rooms were lovely, he declared; he had to give her a hundred francs: the bath and toilette arrangements were those of a queen: there was no danger. And he treated me to as wild a theory as Charlie had cherished: told me that the great _cocottes_ who make heaps of money took as much care of themselves as gentlemen. “Go with a common prostitute and you’ll catch something; go with a real topnotcher and she’s sure to be all right!” And perfectly at ease he went to work with a will.

Bancroft’s way of learning French even was totally different from mine: he went at the grammar and syntax and mastered them: he could write excellent French at the end of four months; but spoke it very haltingly and with a ferocious American accent. When I told him I was going to hear Taine lecture on the Philosophy of Art and the Ideal in Art, he laughed at me; but I believe I got more from Taine than he got from his more exact knowledge of French. When I came to know Taine and was able to call on him and talk to him, Bancroft too wanted to know him. I brought them together; but clearly Taine was not impressed, for Ned out of false shame hardly opened his mouth. But I learned a good deal from Taine and one illustration of his abides with me as giving a true and vivid conception of art and its ideal. In a lecture he pointed out to his students that a lion was not a running beast; but a great jaw set on four powerful springs of short, massive legs. The artist, he went on, seizing the _idea_ of the animal may exaggerate the size and strength of the jaw a little, emphasize too the springing power in his loins and legs and the tearing strength of his front paws and claws; but if he lengthened his legs or diminished his jaw, he would denaturalize the true _idea_ of the beast and would produce an abortion. The ideal, however, should only be indicated. Taine’s talks, too, on literature and the importance of the environment even on great men, all made a profound impression on me. After listening to him for some time I began to see my way up more clearly. I shall never forget, too, some of his thought-inspiring words. Talking one day of the convent of Monte Casino, where a hundred generations of students, freed from all the sordid cares of existence, had given night and day to study and thought and had preserved besides the priceless manuscripts of long past ages and so paved the way for a Renascence of learning and thought, he added gravely:

“I wonder whether Science will ever do as much for her votaries as Religion has done for hers: in other words, I wonder will there ever be a laic Monte Casino!”

Taine was a great teacher and I owe him much kindly encouragement and even enlightenment.

I add this last word, because his French freedom of speech came as pure spring water to my thirsty soul. A dozen of us were grouped about him one day, talking when one student with a remarkable gift for vague thought and highfalutin’ rhetoric, wanted to know what Taine thought of the idea that all the worlds and planets and solar systems were turning round one axis and moving to some divine fulfillment (accomplissement). Taine, who always disliked windy rhetoric, remarked quietly: “The only axis in my knowledge round which everything moves to some accomplishment is a woman’s cunt (le con d’une femme).” They laughed, but not as if the bold word had astonished them. He used it when it was needed, as I have often heard Anatole France use it since, and no one thought anything of it.

In spite of the gorgeous installation of his brunette, Ned at the end of a week found out how blessed are those described in Holy Writ, who fished all night and caught nothing. He had caught a dreadful gonorrhea and was forbidden spirits or wine or coffee till he got well. Exercise, too, was only to be taken in small doses, so it happened that when I went out, he had to stay at home and the outlook on the rue St. Jacques was anything but exhilarating. This naturally increased his desire to get about and see things, and as soon as he began to understand spoken French and to speak it a little, he chafed against the confinement and a room without a bath; he longed for the centre, for the opera and the Boulevards, and nothing would do but we should take rooms in the heart of Paris: he would borrow money from his folks, he said.

Like a fool I was willing and so we took rooms one day in a quiet street just behind the Madeleine, at ten times the price we were paying Marguerite. I soon found that my money was melting; but the life was very pleasant. We often drove in the Bois, went frequently to the Opera, the theatres and music-halls and appraised, too, the great restaurants, the Café Anglais and the Trois Frères as if we had been millionaires.

As luck would have it, Ned’s venereal disease and the doctors became a heavy additional expense that I could ill afford. Suddenly one day I realised that I had only six hundred dollars in the bank: at once I made up my mind to stop and make a fresh start. I told my resolution to Bancroft: he asked me to wait: “he had written to his people for money”, he said, “he would soon pay his debt to me”; but that wasn’t what I wanted: I felt that I had got off the right road because of him and was angry with myself for having wasted my substance in profligate living and worst of all in silly luxury and brainless showing off.

I declared I was ill and was going to England at once; I must make a new start and accumulate some more money and a few mornings later I bade Bancroft “Good-bye” and crossed the Channel and went on to my sister and father in Tenby, arriving there in a severe shivering fit with a bad headache and every symptom of ague.

I was indeed ill and played out: I had taken double doses of life and literature, had swallowed all the chief French writers from Rabelais and Montaigne to Flaubert, Zola and Balzac, passing by Pascal and Vauvenargues, Renan and Hugo, a glutton’s feast for six months. Then, too, I had nosed out this artist’s studio and that; had spent hours watching Rodin at work and more hours comparing this painter’s model with that: these breasts and hips with those.

My love of plastic beauty nearly brought me to grief at least once and perhaps I had better record the incident, though it rather hurt my vanity at the time. One day I called at Manet’s old studio which was rented now by an American painter named Alexander. He had real power as a craftsman but only a moderate brain and was always trying by beauty or something remarkable in his model to make up for his own want of originality. On this visit I noticed an extraordinary sketch of a young girl standing where childhood and womanhood meet: she had cut her hair short and her chestnut-dark eyes lent her a startling distinction.

“You like it?” asked Alexander. “She has the most perfect figure I have ever seen!”

“I like it”, I replied; “I wonder whether the magic is in the model or in your brush?” “You’ll soon see”, he retorted, a little piqued, “she’s due here already” and almost as he spoke she came in with quick, alert step. She was below medium height; but evidently already a woman. Without a word she went behind the screens to undress, when Alexander said: “Well?” I had to think a moment or two before answering.

“God and you have conspired together!” I exclaimed, and indeed his brush had surpassed itself. He had caught and rendered a childish innocence in expression that I had not remarked and he had blocked in the features with superb _brio_:

“It is your best work to date”, I went on, “and almost anyone would have signed it.”

At this moment the model emerged with a sheet about her and probably because of my praise Alexander introduced me to Mlle. Jeanne and said I was a distinguished American writer. She nodded to me saucily, flashing white teeth at me, mounted the estrade, threw off the sheet and took up her pose—all in a moment. I was carried off my feet; the more I looked, the more perfections I discovered. For the first time I saw a figure that I could find no fault with. Needless to say I told her so in my best French with a hundred similes. Alexander also I conciliated by begging him to do no more to the sketch but sell it to me and do another. Finally he took four hundred and fifty francs for it and in an hour had made another sketch.

My purchase had convinced Mlle. Jeanne that I was a young millionaire and when I asked her if I might accompany her to her home, she consented more than readily. As a matter of fact, I took her for a drive in the Bois de Boulogne and from there to dinner in a private room at the Café Anglais. During the meal I had got to like her: she lived with her mother, Alexander had told me; though by no means prudish, still less virginal, she was not a _coureuse_. I thought I might risk connection; but when I got her to take off her clothes and began to caress her sex, she drew away and said quite as a matter of course: “Why not _faire minette_?”

When I asked her what she meant, she told me frankly: “We women do not get excited in a moment as you men do; why not kiss and tongue me there for a few minutes, then I shall have enjoyed myself and shall be ready....”

I’m afraid I made rather a face for she remarked coolly: “Just as you like, you know. I prefer in a meal the _hors d’oeuvres_ to the _pièce de résistance_ like a good many other women: indeed I often content myself with the _hors d’oeuvres_ and don’t take any more. Surely you understand that a woman goes on getting more and more excited for an hour or two and no man is capable of bringing her to the highest pitch of enjoyment while pleasing himself.”

“I’m able”, I said stubbornly, “I can go on all night if you please me, so we should skip appetizers.”

“No, no!” she replied, laughing, “let us have a banquet then, but begin with lips and tongue!”

The delay, the bandying to and fro of argument and above all, the idea of kissing and tonguing her sex, had brought me to coolness and reason. Was I not just as foolish as Bancroft if I yielded to the—an unknown girl.

I replied finally, “No, little lady, your charms are not for me”, and I took my seat again at the table and poured myself out some wine. I had the ordinary American or English youth’s repugnance to what seemed like degradation, never guessing that Jeanne was giving me the second lesson in the noble art of seduction, of which my sister had taught me long ago the rudiments.

The next time I was offered _minette_, I had grown wiser and made no scruples; but that’s another story. The fact is that in my first visit to Paris I kept perfectly chaste, thanks in part to the example of Ned’s blunder; thanks, too, to my dislike of going with any girl sexually whom I didn’t really care for, and I didn’t care for Jeanne: she was too imperious and imperiousness in a girl is the quality I most dislike, perhaps because I suffer from an overdose of the humor. At any rate, it was not sexual indulgence that broke my health in Paris; but my passionate desire to learn that had cut down my hours of sleep and exasperated my nerves: I took cold and had a dreadful recurrence of malaria. I wanted rest and time to take breath and think.

The little house in a side-street in the lovely Welsh watering-place was exactly the haven of rest I needed. I soon got well and strong and for the first time learned to know my father. He came for long walks with me, though he was over sixty. After his terrible accident seven years before (he slipped and fell thirty feet into a dry-dock while his ship was being repaired), one side of his hair and moustache had turned white while the other remained jet black. I was astonished first by his vigor: he thought nothing of a ten-mile walk and on one of our excursions I asked him why he had not given me the nomination I wanted as midshipman.

He was curiously silent and waved the subject aside with: “The Navy for you? No!” and he shook his head. A few days afterwards, however, he came back to the subject of his own accord.

“You asked me”, he began, “why I didn’t send you the nomination for the midshipman’s examination. Now I’ll tell you. To get on in the British Navy and make a career in it, you should either be well-born or well-off: you were neither. For a youth without position or money, there are only two possible roads up: servility or silence, and you were incapable of both.”

“Oh, Governor, how true and how wise of you!” I cried, “but why, why didn’t you tell me? I’d have understood then as well as now and thought the more of you for thwarting me.”

“You forget”, he went on, “that I had trained myself in the other road of silence: it is difficult for me even now to express myself”, and he went on with bitterness in voice and accent:

“They drove me to silence: if you knew what I endured before I got my first step as lieutenant. If it hadn’t been that I was determined to marry your mother, I could never have swallowed the countless humiliations of my brainless superiors! What would have happened to you I saw as in a glass. You were extraordinarily quick, impulsive and high-tempered: don’t you know that brains and energy and will-power are hated by all the wastrels and in this world they are everywhere in the vast majority. Some lieutenant or captain would have taken an instantaneous dislike to you that would have grown on every manifestation of your superiority: he would have laid traps for you of insubordination and insolence probably for months and then in some port where he was powerful, he would have brought you before a court-martial and you would have been dismissed from the Navy in disgrace and perhaps your whole life ruined. The British Navy is the worst place in the world for genius.”

[Illustration]

That scene began my reconciliation with my father; one more experience completed it.

I got wet through on one of our walks and next day had lumbago; I went to a pleasant Welsh doctor I had become acquainted with and he gave me a bottle of belladonna mixture for external use: “I have not got a proper poison bottle”, he added, “and I’ve no business to give you this” (it is forbidden to dispense poisons in Great Britain save in rough octagonal bottles which betray the nature of their contents to the touch). “I’ll not drink it”, I said laughing. “Well, if you do”, he said, “don’t send for me, for there’s more than enough here to kill a dozen men!” I took the bottle and curiously enough, we talked belladonna and its effects for some minutes. Richards, (that was his name) promised to send me a black draught the same evening and he assured me that my lumbago would soon be cured and he was right: but the cure was not effected as he thought it would be.

My sister had a girl of all work at this time called Eliza, Eliza Gibby, if I remember rightly. Lizzie, as we called her, was a slight, red-haired girl of perhaps eighteen with really large chestnut-brown eyes and a cheeky pug nose, and freckled neck and arms. I really don’t know what induced me first to make up to her; but soon I was kissing her; when I wanted to touch her sex however, she drew away confiding to me that she was afraid of the possible consequences. I explained to her immediately that I would withdraw after the first spasm, and then there would be no more risk. She trusted me and one night she came to my room in her night-dress. I took it off with many kisses and was really astounded by her ivory white skin and almost perfect girlish form. I laid her on the edge of my bed, put her knees comfortably under my arm-pits and began to rub her clitoris: in a moment the brown eyes turned up and I ventured to slip in the head of my sex; to my surprise there was no maidenhead to break through and soon my sex had slipt into the tightest cunt I had ever met. Very soon I played Onan and like that Biblical hero “spilt my seed upon the ground”—which in my case was a carpet.

I then got into bed with her and practiced the whole art of love as I understood it at that time. A couple of hours of it brought me four or five orgasms and Lizzie a couple of dozen, to judge by hurried breathings, inarticulate cries and long kissings that soon became mouthings.

Lizzie was what most men would have thought a perfect bedfellow; but I missed Sophy’s science and Sophy’s passionate determination to give me the utmost thrill conceivable. Still in a dozen pleasant nights we became great friends and I began to notice that by working in and out very slowly I could after the first orgasm go on indefinitely without spending again. Alas! I had no idea at the time that this control simply marked the first decrease of my sexual power. If I had only known, I would have cut out all the Lizzies that infested my life and reserved myself for the love that was soon to oust the mere sex-urge.

Next door to us lived a doctor’s widow with two daughters, the eldest a medium-sized girl with large head and good grey eyes, hardly to be called pretty though all girls were pretty enough to excite me for the next ten years or more. This eldest girl was called Molly—a pet name for Maria. Her sister Kathleen was far more attractive physically: she was rather tall and slight, with a lithe grace of figure that was intensely provocative. Yet though I noted all Kathleen’s feline witchery, I fell prone for Molly. She seemed to me both intelligent and witty: she had read widely too and knew both French and German; she was as far above all the American girls I had met in knowledge of books and art as she was inferior to the best of them in bodily beauty. For the first time my mind was excited and interested and I thought I was in love and one late afternoon or early evening on Castle Hill I told her I loved her and we became engaged. Oh, the sweet folly of it all! When she asked me how we should live, what I intended to do, I had no answer ready save the perfect self-confidence of the man who had already proved himself in the struggle of life. Fortunately for me, that didn’t seem very convincing to her: she admitted that she was three years older than I was and if she had said four, she would have been nearer the truth, and she was quite certain I would not find it so easy to win in England as in America: she underrated both my brains and my strength of will. She confided to me that she had a hundred a year of her own: but that, of course, was wholly inadequate. So though she kissed me freely and allowed me a score of little privacies, she was resolved not to give herself completely. Her distrust of my ability and her delightfully piquant reserve heightened my passion and once I won her consent to an immediate marriage. At her best Molly was astonishingly intelligent and frank. One night alone together in our sitting-room which my father and sister left to us, I tried my best to get her to give herself to me. But she shook her head: “it would not be right, dear, till we are married”, she persisted.

“Suppose we were on a desert island”, I said, “and no marriage possible?” “My darling!” she said kissing me on the mouth and laughing aloud, “don’t you know, I should yield then without your urging: you dear! I want you, Sir, perhaps more than you want me.” But she wore closed drawers and I didn’t know how to unbutton them at the sides and though she grew intensely and quickly excited, I could not break down the final barrier. In any case, before I could win, Fate used her shears decisively.

One morning I reproached Lizzie for not bringing me up a black draught Doctor Richards had promised to send me. “It’s on the mantle-piece in the dining-room”, I said, “but don’t trouble, I’ll get it myself”, and I ran down as I was. An evening or two later I left the belladonna mixture the doctor had made up for me on the chimney piece! Like the black draught it was dark brown in color and in a similar bottle.

Next morning Lizzie woke me and offered me a glassful of dark liquid: “Your medicine” she said and half asleep still, I told her to leave the breakfast tray on the table by my bed and then drained the glass she offered to me. The taste awoke me: the drink had made my whole mouth and throat dry: I sprang out of bed and went to the looking-glass, yes! yes! the pupils of my eyes were unnaturally distended: had she given me the whole draught of belladonna instead of a black draught? I still heard her on the stairs but why waste time in asking her. I went over to the table, poured out cup after cup of tea and drained them: then I ran down to the dining-room where my sister and father were at breakfast. I poured out their tea and drank cups full of it in silence: then I asked my sister to get me mustard and warm water and met my father’s question with a brief explanation and request. “Go to Dr. Richards and tell him to come at once: I’ve drunk the belladonna mixture by mistake; there’s no time to lose.” My father was already out of the house! My sister brought me the mustard and I mixed a strong dose with hot water and took it as an emetic; but it didn’t work. I went upstairs to my bedroom again and put my fingers down my throat over the bath: I retched and retched but nothing came: plainly the stomach was paralysed. My sister came in crying. “I’m afraid there’s no hope, Nita”, I said, “the Doctor told me there was enough to kill a dozen men and I’ve drunk it all fasting; but you’ve always been good and kind to me, dear, and death is nothing.”

She was sobbing terribly, so to give her something to do, I asked her to fetch me a kettle full of hot water; she vanished downstairs to get it and I stood before the glass to make up my accounts with my own soul. I knew now it was the belladonna I had taken, all of it on an empty stomach: no chance; in ten minutes I should be insensible, in a few hours dead: dead! was I afraid? I recognized with pride that I was not one whit afraid or in any doubt. Death is nothing but an eternal sleep, nothing! Yet I wished that I could have had time to prove myself and show what was in me! Was Smith right? Could I indeed have become one of the best heads in the world? Could I have been with the really great ones had I lived? No one could tell now but I made up my mind as at the time of the rattlesnake bite, to do my best to live. All this time I was drinking cold water: now my sister brought the jug of warm water, saying, “It may make you throw up, dear” and I began drinking it in long draughts. Bit by bit I felt it more difficult to think, so I kissed my sister, saying, “I had better get into bed while I can walk, as I’m rather heavy!” And then as I got into bed I said, “I wonder whether I shall be carried out next feet-foremost while they chant the Miserere! Never mind, I’ve had a great draught of life and I’m ready to go if go I must!”

At this moment Dr. Richards came in: “Now how, how in Goodness’ name, man, after our talk and all, how did ye come to take it?” His fussiness and strong Welsh accent made me laugh: “give me the stomach pump, doctor, for I’m full of liquid to the gullet”, I cried. I took the tube and pushed it down, sitting up in bed, and he depressed it; but only a brownish stream came: I had absorbed most of the belladonna. That was nearly my last conscious thought, only in myself I determined to keep thinking as long as I could. I heard the Doctor say: “I’ll give him opium—a large dose”, and I smiled to myself at the thought that the narcotic opium and the stimulant belladonna would alike induce unconsciousness, the one by exciting the heart’s action, the other by slackening it....

Many hours afterwards I awoke: it was night, candles were burning and Dr. Richards was leaning over me: “do you know me?” he asked and at once I answered: “Of course I know you, Richards”, and I went on jubilant to say: “I’m saved: I’ve won through. Had I been going to die, I should never have recovered consciousness.” To my astonishment his brow wrinkled and he said, “drink this and then go to sleep again quietly: it’s all right”, and he held a glass of whitish liquid to my lips. I drained the glass and said joyously: “Milk! how funny you should give me milk; that’s not prescribed in any of your books.” He told me afterwards it was Castor-oil he had given me and I had mistaken it for milk. I somehow felt that my tongue was running away with me even before he laid his hand on my forehead to quiet me saying: “There please! don’t talk, rest! please!” and I pretended to obey him; but couldn’t make out why he shut me up! I could not recall my words either—why?

A dreadful thought shook me suddenly: had I been talking nonsense? My father’s face too appeared to be dreadfully perturbed while I was speaking.

“Could one think sanely and yet talk like a madman? What an appalling fate!” I resolved in that case to use my revolver on myself as soon as I knew that my state was hopeless: that thought gave me peace and I turned at once to compose myself. In a few minutes more I was fast asleep.

The next time I awoke, it was again night and again the Doctor was beside me and my sister: “Do you know me?” he asked again, and again I replied: “Of course I know you and Sis here as well.”

“That’s great”, he cried joyously, “now you’ll soon be well again.”

“Of course I shall”, I cried joyously, “I told you that before: but you seemed hurt; did I wander in my mind?”

“There, there”, he cried, “don’t excite yourself and you’ll soon be well again!”

“Was it a near squeak?” I asked.

“You must know it was”, he replied, “you took sixty grains of belladonna fasting and the books give at most quarter of a grain for a dose and declare one grain to be generally fatal. I shall never be able to brag of your case in the medical journals”, he went on smiling, “for no one would ever believe that a heart could go on galloping far too fast to count, but certainly two hundred odd times a minute for thirty odd hours without bursting. You’ve been tested”, he concluded, “as no one was ever tested before and have come back safe! But now sleep again”, he said, “sleep is Nature’s restorative.”

Next morning I awoke rested but very weak: the Doctor came in and sponged me in warm water and changed my linen: my nightshirt and a great part of the sheet were quite brown. “Can you make water?” he asked, handing me a bed-dish: I tried and at once succeeded.

“The wonder is complete!!” he cried, “I’ll bet, you have cured your lumbago too”, and indeed I was completely free of pain.

That evening or the next my father and I had a great, heart-to-heart talk. I told him all my ambitions and he tried to persuade me to take one hundred pounds a year from him to continue my studies. I told him I couldn’t, though I was just as grateful. “I’ll get work as soon as I am strong”, I said; but his unselfish affection shook my very soul and when he told me that my sister, too, had agreed he should make me the allowance, I could only shake my head and thank him. That evening I went to bed early and he came and sat with me: he said that the doctor advised that I should take a long rest. Strange colored lights kept sweeping across my sight every time I shut my eyes: so I asked him to lie beside me and hold my hand. At once he lay down beside me and with his hand in mine, I soon fell asleep and slept like a log till seven next morning. I awoke perfectly well and refreshed and was shocked to see that my father’s face was strangely drawn and white and when he tried to get off the bed, he nearly fell. I saw then that he had lain all the night through on the brass edge of the bed rather than risk disturbing me to give him more room. From that time to the end of his noble and unselfish life, some twenty-five years later, I had only praise and admiration for him.

As soon as I began to take note of things, I remarked that Lizzie no longer came near my room. One day I asked my sister what had become of her. To my astonishment my sister broke out in passionate dislike of her: “while you were lying unconscious”, she cried, “and the doctor was taking your pulse every few minutes, evidently frightened: he asked me could he get a prescription made up at once: he wanted to inject morphia, he said, to stop or check the racing of your heart. He wrote the prescription and I sent Lizzie with it and told her to be as quick as she could for your life might depend on it. When she didn’t come back in ten minutes, I got the Doctor to write it out again and sent Father with it. He brought it back in double-quick time. Hours passed and Lizzie didn’t return: she had gone out before ten and didn’t get back till it was almost one. I asked her where she had been? Why she hadn’t got back sooner? She replied coolly that she had been listening to the Band. I was so shocked and angry I wouldn’t keep her another moment. I sent her away at once. Think of it! I have no patience with such heartless brutes!”

Lizzie’s callousness seemed to me even stranger than it seemed to my sister. I have often noticed that girls are less considerate of others than even boys, unless their affections are engaged, but I certainly thought I had half won Lizzie at least! However, the fact is so peculiar that I insert it here for what it may be worth.

During my convalescence which lasted three months, Molly went for a visit to some friends: at the time I regretted it; now looking back I have no doubt she went away to free herself from an engagement she thought ill-advised. Missing her I went about with her younger, prettier sister Kathleen who was more sensuous and more affectionate than Molly.

A little later, Molly went to Dresden to stay with an elder married sister: thence she wrote to me to set her free and I consented as a matter of course very willingly. Indeed I had already more real affection for Kathleen than Molly had ever called to life in me.

As I got strong again I came to know a young Oxford man who professed to be astonished at my knowledge of literature and one day he came to me with the news that Grant Allen, the writer, had thrown up his job as Professor of Literature at Brighton College: “why should you not apply for it: it’s about two hundred pounds a year and they can do no worse than refuse you.”

I wrote to Taine at once, telling him of the position and my illness and asking him to send me a letter of recommendation if he thought I was fit. By return of post I got a letter from him recommending me in the warmest way. This letter I sent on to Dr. Bigge, the Headmaster, together with one from Professor Smith of Lawrence and Dr. Bigge answered by asking me to come to Brighton to see him. Within twenty-four hours I went and was accepted forthwith, though he thought I looked too young to keep discipline. He soon realised that his fears were merely imaginary: I could have kept order in a cage of hyenas.

A long book would not exhaust my year as a Master in Brighton College; but only two or three happenings require notice here as affecting my character and its growth. First of all, I found in every class of thirty lads, five or six of real ability, and in the whole school three or four of astonishing minds, well graced, too in manners and spirit. But six out of ten were both stupid and obstinate and these I left wholly to their own devices.

Dr. Bigge warned me by a report of my work exhibited on the notice-board of the Sixth Form that while some of my scholars displayed great improvement, the vast majority showed none at all. I went to see him immediately and handed him my written resignation to take place at any moment he pleased. “I cannot bother with the fools who don’t even wish to learn”, I said, “but I’ll do anything for the others.”

Most of the abler boys liked me, I believe, and a little characteristic incident came to help me. There was a Form-master named Wolverton, an Oxford man and son of a well-known Archdeacon, who sometimes went out with me to the theatre or the roller-skating rink in West Street. One night at the rink he drew my attention to a youth in a straw hat going out accompanied by a woman.

“Look at that”, said Wolverton, “there goes So and So in our colors and with a woman! Did you see him?”

“I didn’t pay much attention”, I replied, “but surely there’s nothing unusual in a Sixth Form boy trying his wings outside the nest.”

At the next Masters’ Meeting, to my horror, Wolverton related the circumstance and ended up by declaring that unless the boy could give the name of the woman, he should be expelled. He called upon me as a witness to the fact.

I got up at once and said that I was far too shortsighted to distinguish the boy at half the distance and I refused to be used in the matter in any way.

Dr. Bigge thought the offence very grave: “the morals of a boy”, he declared, “were the most important part of his education: the matter must be probed to the bottom: he thought that on reflection I would not deny that I had seen a College boy that night in colors and in suspicious company.”

I thereupon got up and freed my soul; the whole crew seemed to me mere hypocrites.

“In the Doctor’s own House”, I said, “where I take evening preparation, I could give him a list of boys who are known as lovers, notorious even, and so long as this vice is winked at throughout the school, I shall be no party to persecuting anybody for yielding to legitimate and natural passion.” I had hardly got out the last words when Cotteril, the son of the Bishop of Edinburgh, got up and called upon me to free his House from any such odious and unbearable suspicion.

I retorted immediately that there was a pair in his house known as “The Inseparables” and went on to state that my quarrel was with the whole boardinghouse system and not with individual masters who, I was fain to believe, did their best.

The Vice-principal, Dr. Newton, was the only one who even recognized my good motives: he came away from the meeting with me and advised me to consult with his wife. After this I was practically boycotted by the masters: I had dared to say in public what Wolverton and others of them had admitted to me in private a dozen times.

Mrs. Newton, the vice-principal’s wife, was one of the leaders of Brighton society: she was what the French call une maitresse femme, and a born leader in any society. She advised me to form girls’ classes in literature for the half-holidays each week; was good enough to send out the circulars and lend her drawing-room for my first lectures. In a week I had fifty pupils who paid me half a crown a lesson and I soon found myself drawing ten pounds a week in addition to my pay. I saved every penny and thus came in a year to monetary freedom.

At every crisis in my life I have been helped by good friends who have aided me out of pure kindness at cost of time and trouble to themselves. Smith helped me in Lawrence and Mrs. Newton at Brighton out of bountiful human sympathy.

Before this even I had got to know a man named Harold Hamilton, manager of the London & County Bank, I think, at Brighton. It amused him to see how quickly and regularly my balance grew: soon I confided my plans to him and my purpose: he was all sympathy. I lent him books and his daughter Ada was assiduous at all my lectures.

In the nick of time for me the war broke out between Chili and Peru: Chilian bonds dropped from 90 to 60: I saw Hamilton and assured him that Chili if left alone, could beat all South America: he advised me to wait and see. A little later Bolivia threw in her lot with Peru and Chilian bonds fell to 43 or 44. At once I went to Hamilton and asked him to buy Chilians for all I possessed on a margin of three or four. After much talk he did what I wished on a margin of ten: a fortnight later came the news of the first Chilian victory and Chilians jumped to 60 odd and continued to climb steadily: I sold at over 80 and thus netted from my first five hundred pounds over two thousand pounds and by Christmas was free once more to study with a mind at case. Hamilton told me that he had followed my lead a little later but had made more from a larger investment.

The most important happening at Brighton I must now relate. I have already told in a pen-portrait of Carlyle published by Austin Harrison in the “English Review” some twelve years ago how I went one Sunday morning and called upon my hero, Thomas Carlyle in Chelsea. I told there, too, how on more than one Sunday I used to meet him on his morning walk along the Chelsea embankment, and how once at least he talked to me of his wife and admitted his impotence.

I only gave a summary of a few talks in my portrait of him; for the traits did not call for strengthening by repetition; but here I am inclined to add a few details, for everything about Carlyle at his best, is of enduring interest!

When I told him how I had been affected by reading Emerson’s speech to the students of Dartmouth College and how it had in a way forced me to give up my law-practice and go to Europe to study, he broke in excitedly:

“I remember well reading that very page to my wife and saying that nothing like it for pure nobility had been heard since Schiller went silent. It had a great power with it.... And so that started you off and changed your way of life?... I don’t wonder ... it was a great Call.”

After that Carlyle seemed to like me. At our final parting too, when I was going to Germany to study and he wished me “God speed and Goodspeed! on the way that lies before ye”, he spoke again of Emerson and the sorrow he had felt on parting with him, deep, deep sorrow and regret, and he added, laying his hands on my shoulders, “sorrowing most of all that they should see his face no more forever.” I remembered the passage and cried:

“Oh, Sir, I should have said that, for mine is the loss, mine the unspeakable misfortune now”, and through my tears I saw that his eyes too were full.

He had just given me a letter to Froude, “good, kindly Froude”, who, he was sure, would help me in any way of commendation to some literary position “if I have gone, as is most likely”, and in due time Froude did help me as I shall tell in the proper place.

My pen-portrait of Carlyle was ferociously attacked by a kinsman, Alexander Carlyle, who evidently believed that I had got my knowledge of Carlyle’s weakness from Froude’s revelations in 1904. But luckily for me, Sir Charles Jessel remembered a dinner in the Garrick Club given by him in 1886 or 1887, at which both Sir Richard Quain and myself were present. Jessel recalled distinctly that I had that evening told the story of Carlyle’s impotence as explaining the sadness of his married life and had then asserted that the confession came to me from Carlyle himself.

At that dinner Sir Richard Quain said that he had been Mrs. Carlyle’s physician and that he would tell me later exactly what Mrs. Carlyle had confessed to him. Here is Quain’s account as he gave it me that night in a private room at the Garrick. He said:

“I had been a friend of the Carlyles for years: he was a hero to me, one of the wisest and best of men: she was singularly witty and worldly-wise and pleased me even more than the sage. One evening I found her in great pain on the sofa: when I asked her where the pain was, she indicated her lower belly and I guessed at once that it must be some trouble connected with the change of life.

“I begged her to go up to her bedroom and I would come in a quarter of an hour and examine her, assuring her the while that I was sure I could give her almost immediate relief. She went upstairs. In about ten minutes I asked her husband, would he come with me? He replied in his broadest Scotch accent, always a sign of emotion with him:

‘I’ll have naething to do with it. Ye must just arrange it yerselves’.

“Thereupon I went upstairs and knocked at Mrs. Carlyle’s bedroom door: no reply: I tried to enter: the door was locked and unable to get an answer I went downstairs in a huff and flung out of the house.

“I stayed away for a fortnight but when I went back one evening I was horrified to see how ill Mrs. Carlyle looked stretched out on the sofa, and as pale as death. ‘You’re worse?’ I asked.

‘Much worse and weaker!’ she replied.

‘You naughty obstinate creature!’ I cried.

‘I’m your friend and your doctor and anything but a fool: I’m sure I can cure you in double-quick time and you prefer to suffer. It’s stupid of you and worse—Come up now at once and think of me only as your doctor’, and I half lifted, half helped her to the door: I supported her up the stairs and at the door of her room, she said:

‘Give me ten minutes, Doctor, and I’ll be ready. I promise you I won’t lock the door again.’

“With that assurance I waited and in ten minutes knocked and went in.

“Mrs. Carlyle was lying on the bed with a woolly-white shawl round her head and face. I thought it absurd affectation in an old married woman, so I resolved on drastic measures: I turned the light full on, then I put my hand under her dress and with one toss threw it right over her head. I pulled her legs apart, dragged her to the edge of the bed and began inserting the speculum in her vulva: I met an obstacle: I looked—and immediately sprang up: ‘Why, you’re a virgo intacta’ (an untouched virgin!) I exclaimed.

She pulled the shawl from her head and said: ‘What did you expect?’

‘Anything but that’, I cried, ‘in a woman married these five and twenty years!’

“I soon found the cause of her trouble and cured it or rather did away with it: that night she rested well and was her old gay, mutinous self when I called next day.

“A little later she told me her story.

[Illustration]

“After the marriage”, she said, “Carlyle was strange and out of sorts, very nervous, he seemed, and irritable. When we reached the house we had supper and about eleven o’clock I said I would go to bed, being rather tired: he nodded and grunted something. I put my hands on his shoulders as I passed him and said “Dear, do you know that you haven’t kissed me once, all day—this day of days!” and I bent down and laid my cheek against his. He kissed me; but said: “You, women are always kissing—I’ll be up soon!” Forced to be content with that I went upstairs, undressed and got into bed: he hadn’t even kissed me of his own accord, the whole day!

“A little later he came up, undressed and got into bed beside me. I expected him to take me in his arms and kiss and caress me.

“‘Nothing of the sort, he lay there, jiggling like’, (“I guessed what she meant”, said Quain, “the poor devil in a blue funk was frigging himself to get a cock-stand.”) ‘I thought for some time’, Mrs. Carlyle went on, ‘one moment I wanted to kiss and caress him; the next moment I felt indignant. Suddenly it occurred to me that in all my hopes and imaginings of a first night, I had never got near the reality: silent, the man lay there jiggling, jiggling. Suddenly I burst out laughing: it was all too wretched! too absurd!’

“‘At once he got out of bed with the one scornful word ‘Woman!’ and went into the next room: he never came back to my bed.

“‘Yet he’s one of the best and noblest men in the world and if he had been more expansive and told me oftener that he loved me, I could easily have forgiven him any bodily weakness; silence is love’s worst enemy and after all he never really made me jealous save for a short time with Lady Ashburnham. I suppose I’ve been as happy with him as I could have been with anyone yet—’

“That’s my story”, said Quain in conclusion, “and I make you a present of it: even in the Elysian Fields I shall be content to be in the Carlyles’ company. They were a great pair!”

Just one scene more. When I told Carlyle how I had made some twenty-five hundred pounds in the year and told him besides how a banker offered me almost the certainty of a great fortune if I would buy with him a certain coal-wharf at Tunbridge Wells (it was Hamilton’s pet scheme), he was greatly astonished. “I want to know”, I went on, “if you think I’ll be able to do good work in literature; if so I’ll do my best. Otherwise I ought to make money and not waste time in making myself another second-rate writer.”

“No one can tell you that”, said Carlyle slowly, “You’ll be lucky if you reach the knowledge of it yourself before ye die! I thought my Frederic was great work; yet the other day you said I had buried him under the dozen volumes and you may be right; but have I ever done anything that will live?—”

“Sure”, I broke in, heartsore at my gibe, “Sure, your French Revolution must live and the “Heroes and Hero Worship”, and “Latter Day Pamphlets” and, and—”

“Enough”, he cried, “You’re sure?”

“Quite, quite sure”, I repeated. Then he said, “You can be equally sure of your own place; for we can all reach the heights we are able to oversee.”

[Illustration]





                        AFTERWORD TO THE FIRST
                      VOLUME OF MY LIFE’S STORY.
                            --------------


I had hardly written “Finis” at the end of this book when the faults in it, faults both of omission and commission, rose in swarms and robbed me of my joy in the work.

It will be six or seven years at least before I shall know whether the book is good and life-worthy or not and yet need drives me to publish it at once.

Did not Horace require nine years to judge his work?

I, therefore, want the reader to know my intention; I want to give him the key, so to speak, to this chamber of my soul.

First of all I wished to destroy or, at least, to qualify the universal opinion that love in youth is all romance and idealism. The masters all paint it crowned with roses of illusion: Juliet is only fourteen: Romeo, having lost his love, refuses life: Goethe follows Shakespeare in his Mignon and Marguerite: even the great humorist Heine and the so-called realist, Balzac, adopt the same convention. Yet to me it is absolutely untrue in regard to the male in boyhood and early youth, say from thirteen to twenty: the sex-urge, the lust of the flesh was so overwhelming in me that I was conscious only of desire. When the rattlesnake’s poison-bag is full, he strikes at everything that moves, even the blades of grass; the poor brute is blinded and in pain with the overplus. In my youth I was blind, too, through excess of semen.

I often say that I was thirty-five years of age before I saw an ugly woman, a woman that is, whom I didn’t desire. In early puberty, all women tempted me; and all girls still more poignantly.

From twenty to twenty-three, I began to distinguish qualities of the mind and heart and soul; to my amazement, I preferred Kate to Lily, though Lily gave me keener sensations: Rose excited me very little yet I knew she was of rarer, finer quality than even Sophy who seemed to me an unequalled bedfellow.

From that time on the charms of spirit, heart and soul, drew me with ever-increasing magnetism, overpowering the pleasures of the senses though plastic beauty exercises as much fascination over me today as it did fifty years ago. I never knew the illusion of love, the rose-mist of passion till I was twenty-seven and I was intoxicated with it for years; but that story will be for my second volume.

Now strange to say, my loves till I left America just taught me as much of the refinements of passion, as is commonly known in these States.

France and Greece made me wise to all that Europe has to teach; that deeper knowledge too is for the second volume in which I shall relate how a French girl surpassed Sophy’s art as far as Sophy surpassed Rose’s ingenuous yielding.

[Illustration]

But it was not till I was over forty and had made my second journey round the world that I learned in India and Burmah, all the high mysteries of sense and the profounder artistry of the immemorial East. I hope to tell it all in a third volume, together with my vision of European and world-politics. Then I may tell in a fourth volume of my breakdown in health and how I won it back again and how I found a pearl of women and learned from her what affection really means, the treasures of tenderness, sweet-thoughted-wisdom and self-abnegation that constitute the woman’s soul. Vergil may lead Dante through Hell and Purgatory: it is Beatrice alone who can show him Paradise and guide him to the Divine. Having learned the wisdom of women—to absorb and not to reason—having experienced the irresistible might of gentleness and soul-subduing pity, I may tell of my beginnings in literature and art and how I won to the front and worked with my peers and joyed in their achievements, always believing my own to be better. Without this blessed conviction how could I ever have undergone the labor or endured the shame or faced the loneliness of the Garden, or carried the cross of my own Crucifixion; for every artist’s life begins in joy and hope and ends in the shrouding shadows of doubt and defeat and the chill of everlasting night.

In these books as in my life, there should be a crescendo of interest and understanding: I shall win the ears of men first and their senses, and later their minds and hearts and finally their souls; for I shall show them all the beautiful things I have discovered in Life’s pilgrimage, all the sweet and lovable things too and so encourage and cheer them and those aftercomers, my peers, whose sounding footsteps already I seem to hear, and I shall say as little as may be of defeats and downfalls and disgraces save by way of warning; for it is courage men need most in life, courage and lovingkindness.

Is it not written in the book of Fate that he who gives most receives most and do we not all, if we would tell the truth, win more love than we give: Are we not all debtors to the overflowing bounty of God?

                                                          Frank Harris.


         _The Catskills Mts., this 25th day of August 1922._
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● Transcriber’s Notes:
   ○ Missing or obscured punctuation was silently corrected.
   ○ Typographical errors were silently corrected.
   ○ Inconsistent spelling and hyphenation were made consistent only
     when a predominant form was found in this book.
   ○ Text that was in italics is enclosed by underscores (_italics_).

Full text volume 2[2]

VOLUME TWO FOREWORD

CHAPTER I.

SKOBELEF

CHAPTER II.

HOW I CAME TO KNOW SHAKESPEARE AND GERMAN STUDENT CUSTOMS

CHAPTER III.

GERMAN STUDENT LIFE AND PLEASURE

CHAPTER IV.

GOETHE, WILLIAM I, BISMARCK, WAGNER

CHAPTER V.

ATHENS AND THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE

CHAPTER VI.

LOVE IN ATHENS; AND "THE SACRED BAND"

CHAPTER VII.

HOLIDAYS AND IRISH VIRTUE!

CHAPTER VIII.

HOW I MET FROUDE AND WON A PLACE I N LONDON AND GAVE UP WRITING POETRY!

CHAPTER IX.

FIRST LOVE; HUTTON, ESCOTT, AND THE EVENING NEWS

CHAPTER X.

LORD FOLKESTONE AND THE EVENING NEWS; SIR CHARLES DILKE'S STORY AND HIS WIFE'S; EARL CAIRNS AND MISS FORTESCUE

CHAPTER XI.

LONDON LIFE AND HUMOR; BURNAND AND MARX

CHAPTER XII.

LAURA, YOUNG TENNYSON, CARLO PELLEGRINI, PADEREWSKI, MRS. LYNN LINTON

CHAPTER XIII.

THE PRINCE; GENERAL DICKSON; ENGLISH GLUTTONY; SIR ROBERT FOWLER AND FINCH HATTON; ERNEST BECKETT AND MALLOCK; THE PINK 'UN AND FREE SPEECH

CHAPTER XIV.

CHARLES READE; MARY ANDERSON; IRVING; CHAMBERLAIN; HYNDMAN AND BURNS

CHAPTER XV.

THE NEW SPEAKER PEEL; LORD RANDOLPH CHURCHILL; COL. BURNABY; WOLSELEY; GRAHAM; GORDON; JOKE ON ALFRED AUSTIN

CHAPTER XVI.

MEMORIES OF JOHN RUSKIN

4

CHAPTER XVII. MATTHEW ARNOLD; PARNELL; OSCAR WILDE; THE MORNING MAIL, BOTTOMLEY

CHAPTER XVIII.

THE EBB AND FLOW OF PASSION!

CHAPTER XIX.

BOULANGER; ROCHEFORT; THE COLONIAL CONFERENCE; JAN HOFMEYR; ALFRED DEAKIN; AND CECIL RHODES; THE CARDINALS MANNING AND NEWMAN

CHAPTER XX.

MEMORIES OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT

CHAPTER XXI.

ROBERT BROWNING'S FUNERAL; CECIL RHODES AND BARNATO; A FINANCIAL DUEL; ACTRESS AND PRINCE AT MONTE CARLO

CHAPTER XXII.

LORD RANDOLPH CHURCHILL

CHAPTER XXIII.

A PASSIONATE EXPERIENCE IN PARIS: A FRENCH MISTRESS

CHAPTER XXIV.

THE FORETASTE OF DEATH FROM 1920 ONWARD




VOLUME TWO FOREWORD

THE FIRST VOLUME of my autobiography was condemned savagely from one end of the English-speaking world to the other and especially by selfstyled men of letters and journalists. One would have said that I had taken the bread out of their mouths, they made such an outcry. Strangely enough, the anathemas were louder and bitterer in England than in America; but what touched me more nearly, there were two notable exceptions. Bernard Shaw wrote that he could have defended the book had it not been for the illustrations, which were for the most part photographs of pretty, naked girls—at worst inoffensive, I should have thought. Mencken, however, the best of American critics, went further than Shaw and declared boldly in print that the sex-urge, being the chief emotion in a healthy boy, should be described plainly; at the same time expressing his belief that if I pictured my later life in London as frankly, it would be a great human document. Two righteous in two hundred millions. I hadn't expected a much larger proportion and their quality gives me hope. To alter long-established convention is difficult and dangerous and requires time. It is now some fifty years since some of us began to question the benefits of vaccination. Alfred Russel Wallace, Bernard Shaw and others have written and spoken against it; but the authorities, doctor-driven, made this inoculation with cow-pox compulsory and answered our reasonable arguments with force and various punishments. Yet we had right and reason on our side. Take one fact: in 1914, the last year for which we have official figures, there were four deaths from small-pox registered in Great Britain and six deaths from vaccination; to say nothing of the dozens that were not accurately reported, owing to the prepossession of the ordinary medical attendant. One such fact, you would think, would give any one pause. But you have men of sense and learning like Sir Henry Maine writing that "compulsory vaccination (inoculation with cow-pox) is in the utmost danger," not because there are-more deaths year after year in Great Britain from the remedy than there are from the disease but, if you please, because of "the gradual establishment of the masses in power," which is, he adds, "of the blackest omen for all legislation founded on scientific opinion." By "scientific opinion" in this case he means doctors' fees! The childish unreason of the world fills me with fear for the future of humanity. On all sides I still hear idiotic defences of the World War in spite of its fifty millions of untimely deaths and the consequent misery and impoverishment of our whole generation. The lying slogan, "the war to end war," has not even put an end to armaments or munitions-makers. The old lies are as popular as ever and pass uncontradicted, almost unquestioned. Science is giving us every day new powers, and with the decline of religion our morality has positively diminished, not to say disappeared. The nations are growing daily stronger and more selfish. The struggle between the

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nations for world empire may be said to have had its first act in the World War. It looks as if the United States and the English Confederation were sure to emerge as the most powerful; with Russia next in the race. But if the combative spirit in the individual is not repressed, there may yet be wars of annihilation wherein the present races of men may be blotted out. It is our task to form if we can a new religion or at least a new morality. And the new moral laws must be laws of health and laws of reason. We have been told a good deal about our duty to our neighbour; but first we must learn our duty to ourselves and we must study our bodies at least as carefully as our minds. The English and American people have enormous, preponderant power, power of numbers, power of wealth, power of almost unassailable position; but who does not see that their strength is out of all proportion to their brains. They are at the head of the industrial world; but they have no corresponding position in the world of science, or art or literature. We must copy the Germans and endow scientific research; we must copy the French and endow the arts and we must certainly imitate them by freeing literature from the silly prohibitions of an outworn Puritanism. That at least is my most mature opinion, and accordingly I have taken it on myself to set the example in this field. Does anyone imagine that we can hope to produce a greater Balzac while respecting the conventions of the Sunday School and using euphemisms such as our "little Mary"? Everyone admits today that painters and sculptors should be free to represent the naked human figure, but the moment a writer claims similar freedom he is boycotted and disgraced, his books are seized and burned and he may think himself lucky if he escapes fine and imprisonment. Yet the evil results of this ostrich policy are surely plain enough and well enough known. In this volume, in which I propose to tell the intimate history of half a dozen famous contemporaries, the three greatest and most famous died in the flower of manhood of syphilis and two of the three were English. In the World War more than one in four of our American officers had suffered or was suffering from this foul disease. It is bred and fostered by secrecy and prudery: Voltaire knew that "when modesty goes out of manners, (moeurs, Lat: mores) it goes into speech." No one need read our books unless they wish to; the conventiclers and churches will always be able to signify their disapprobation; but why should they be allowed to make of their prejudice a law and punish others for not rejoicing in their blindness? No one can answer Milton's plea in favour of always letting "truth grapple with falsehood." In this matter the time-spirit is with me and all the highest authorities. In France Flaubert was prosecuted for writing and publishing Madame Bovary; but a generation later the Nona of Zola passed unpersecuted and a generation later still La garconne of Victor Marguerite was published freely. 232

In England too there is progress, but it is backward. Thirty years ago Burton was allowed to publish his Arabian Nights privately, and send it through the post; today he would be imprisoned for the crime. Yet the greatest writers are all in favour of freedom. I want the unprejudiced to consider a few of the undoubted authorities. One evening after dinner Goethe read to Eckermann several scenes from Hanswurst's Hochzeit, or John Sausage's Marriage, written or at least begun in the poet's prime; Eckermann compares it with Faust for creative vigour and freedom; but adds at once that it goes "beyond all limits"; and he can not even give any excerpt to show its force and freedom. Goethe himself admits that he cannot publish it in Germany. "In Paris I would have been able to publish it," he adds, "but not in Frankfort or Weimar." This shows sufficiently what Goethe's opinion on free speech was; for the limits in Germany were and are far wider than in England or America. Let me quote another and equally great writer. Here is a small part of what Montaigne wrote on this subject, and Montaigne, as Sainte-Beuve declares is "the wisest of all Frenchmen"; I use Florio's translation: Non pudeat dicere quod non pudeat sentire—"Let us not be ashamed to speak what we shame not to think ... For my part I am resolved to dare speak whatsoever I dare do. And am displeased with thoughts not to be published. The worst of my actions or conditions seem not so ugly unto me as I finde it both ugly and base not to dare to avouch them ..." And again-"Both wee and they (men and women) are capable of a thousand more hurtful and unnatural corruptions than is lust or lasciviousness. But wee frame vices and weigh sinnes not according to their nature but according to our interest..." And still in the same chapter: "What monstrous beaste is this whom his delights displease ..." And finally: "Few I know will snarle at the liberty of my writings that have not more cause to snarle at their thoughts-looseness." And not only are the greatest German and French writers on my side but also the best Americans. I have already more than once adduced Whitman's faith and practice on this subject. In spite of a strange inarticulateness I regard him as the greatest of all Americans; but Poe is continually classed with him and accordingly I am eager to give Poe's considered opinion. Here are his words: If any ambitious man have a fancy to revolutionize at one effort the universal world of human thought, human opinion, and human sentiment, the opportunity is his own—the road to immortal renown lies straight, open, and unencumbered before him. All that he has to do is to write and publish a very little book. Its title should be simple—a few plain words—My Heart Laid Bare. But this little book must be true to its title. Now, is it not singular that, with the rabid thirst for notoriety which distinguishes so many of mankind—so many, too, who care not a fig what is thought of them after death, there should not be found one man having sufficient hardihood to write this little book? To write, I say. There are ten 233

thousand men who, if the book were once written, would laugh at the notion of being disturbed by its publication during their life, and who could not even conceive why they should object to its being published after their death. But to write it—there is the rub. No man dare write it. No man ever will dare write it. No man could write it, even if he dared. The paper would shrivel and blaze at every touch of the fiery pen! I wonder did even Poe realize how difficult it is to tell the truth about oneself. It is not merely a question of fear, as he seems to think; the paper might shrivel and I should not care a jot. German-American mediocrities might go on prating of my "literary and moral suicide," and the American authorities might go on making bonfires of my books in public, while saving from the flames copies enough to fill their pockets or gratify their taste in private. What would it matter to me? But is my attempt futile? That's the question. Is it possible truly to mirror in words the whole soul of man and this magical incomprehensible mystery of a world? I thought that if I used Truth and described the intense sex-urge of my youth simply, at the same time showing how passionately eager I have always been to learn and grow at all costs, that at any rate the porch of the temple would be significant and appealing. My first volume taught me that Truth was a mortal enemy of Beauty. I remember once measuring the distance between the pillars of the Parthenon on the Acropolis and finding that it was never exactly the same; the pillars looked to be of equal size and at an equal distance one from the other; but it was all a delusion of our seeing and the rhythmic beauty of the colonnade is surely due to inexactitude. Was this why Goethe wrote Wahrheit und Dichtung—Fact and Fiction Out of My Life? He saw that he could not write the naked truth and accordingly admitted the poetry? Should I follow his example? His autobiography is dull, even tedious; yet if he had tried to tell the truth, how fascinating it would have been. We should have known Frederika and Mignon and Madame Von Stein and a host of other passionate women to the heart's core; even his cook-wife would have thrown new light on what was prosaic in him and German-sentimental. We should have known Goethe infinitely better and he was well worth knowing. As he himself said: Willst du ins Unendliche schreiten, Geh nur in Endlichen nach alien Seiten. As soon as I first read it, I knew that this was my life's motto. The fact is we men cannot deal with absolutes. Truth is not for us; pure Light we cannot even 234

see; but a nearer and ever nearer approximation to truth should be our endeavour. One would have thought that the World War showed the danger of our ordinary aggressive Ideal clearly enough; yet the World War and its many millions of young and vigorous lives all lost is no worse than the hating, snarling and snapping of these dachshunds, poodles and bulldogs that are now making of Europe a hell on earth! And America, the America of Whitman and Lincoln, will stand aside forsooth and fill her pockets and see injustice done! To man propose this test Thy body at its best How far shall that project thy Soul On its lone way? What hope is there for humanity save in confession and reform; in truth and in love. We must construct a new ideal of life and build for ourselves a new faith: the arrogant, combative, prudish ideal of the past must be finally discredited and discarded. And if all the ways of love are beautiful to me, why should I not say so? All the girls and women I have met and loved have taught me something; they have been to me the charm and the wonder, the mystery and the romance of life. I have been from the Cape to Cairo; and from Vladikavkas to Vladivostok; but one girl has taught me more than I could find in two continents. There is more to learn and love in one woman's spirit than in all the oceans. And their bodies are as fascinating—thank God!—as their souls. And all the lessons they have taught me have been of gentleness and generosity, of loving-kindness and tender pity, of flower-soft palms and clinging lips, and the perfume of their flesh is sweeter than all the scents of Araby, and they are gracious-rich in giving as crowned queens. All that is amiable and sweet and good in life, all that ennobles and chastens, I have won from women. Why should I not sing their praises or at least show my gratitude by telling of the subtle intoxication of their love that has made my life an entrancing romance? The soul of life to me has always been love of women and admiration of great men. For many years only two men appealed to me as guides in life's labyrinth, Jesus and Shakespeare; twin spirits of intensest appeal; then in maturity others like Goethe and Heine, Leopardi, Keats and Blake, Nietzsche, Wagner and Cervantes, Cezanne, Monet, Rodin and a host of others; my contemporaries who taught me that they too shared my striving and were proud of their singular achievement: this admiration of great men and especially of great artists is the other side of my religion. 235

In the world I have made many friends and found kindness at least equal to my own; sunny days of joy and nights moonlit with mystery and no foe to be found anywhere save ignorance, no enemy save corsets, prohibitions and conventions, no boredom save hypocrisy and want of thought, no God save my own love of the highest, no devil except my own appalling limitations in sympathy and feeling. Yet the "unco guid" tell me that this honest attempt of mine to relate in simplest words the story of my earthly pilgrimage will do harm and not good, corrupt and not fortify. They lie and they know it, or the population of the world would diminish as rapidly as it is increasing. But one warning I must give: this, my second volume, will not be so exact and painfully true as the first for several reasons. First of all, as soon as my fears of life, the dread that I might not be able to earn a good living, had been blotted out by my success as a youth in the United States, life itself grew more fascinating to me. I realized that I could fashion it, almost at will, could travel or study as I pleased and so could develop myself almost as I wished. True, I had learned that I had dreadful, natural limitations; I could never be a great athlete, I was not big enough; nor a first-rate shot, my eyes were astigmatic; but I believed that within certain narrow limits I could do a great deal with myself and assuredly improve my mind and heart out of recognition. I resolved to do this; but first of all I wished to keep my word to Professor Smith and spend three or four years studying in Germany and afterwards at least one year at the University of Athens; a scholar I must be, even if I were never to be learned. Alas! life in my Lehrjahre was infinitely interesting to me, so I took few notes and must now trust my memory, even for Important facts. It is a paradox that may serve as a truth that an excellent memory is the source of much falsehood. In talking to my friend Professor Churton Collins once, I found that his extraordinary and minute exactitude came from a bad memory; he could not pin a date or a fact or a line of poetry in his head and so was compelled to verify all his statements. On the other hand, I had a most excellent memory, as I have said, especially for words; but even as a young man I had found out that my memory, even of poetry or prose, was often vitiated by time. Now and then my memory altered this word or that in a poem, sometimes bettering the original; but more often debasing the wordvalue in favour of extra sonority. My one natural endowment, a very strong and resonant bass voice, injured my memory. As I came to maturity I found that my memory suffered in a different way; it began to color incidents dramatically. For example, I had been told a story by someone, it lay dormant in me for years; suddenly some striking fact called back the tale and I told it as if I had been present and it was fulfilled with dramatic effects, far beyond the first narration. 236

I am no longer a trustworthy witness; yet more honest, I dare swear, than any Rousseau or Casanova of them all. Hamlet declares he could accuse himself of dreadful faults, but takes care never to hint even at the wild sensuality and mad, baffled jealousy which he pours out in floods on his unhappy mother, who, for love of lewdness, stands to him for his faithless mistress. I intend to accuse myself of all my worst faults, for already I notice that my mind is so confirmed a partisan that if I don't put in all the shadows, there will be little likeness to humanity in my self-coloured portrait. To write one's life truthfully one should keep a complete diary and record, not only facts; but motives—fears, hopes and imaginings—day by day at very considerable length. It is altogether too late for me to begin such a work; but from today on (November 22nd, 1923) I propose to keep such a careful record that when I come to this last lap of the race I may be able to put down the true truth in every particular. Yet no man's mind can mirror truth perfectly. But whether I can tell the truth or not does not alter the fact that I mean even in this second volume to keep as near the truth as I can. The soul of the first volume was the insane sex-urge of healthy youth and the desire to learn and grow and become someone of note in life. The inspiration of this second volume is the realization of the virtue of chastity, or, if you will, of total abstinence from all sex-pleasure for years and its effect not only upon character but upon the mind, and especially upon the creative power. In the first period I cultivated my will a little now and then in order to make my body subservient to my intelligence; in the second period I reaped enormous benefits from this discipline. I never dreamed then that one day in my old age I should sing the praises of chastity; but clearly enough I see now that chastity is the mother of many virtues. There's a story of Balzac that illustrates my meaning, I think it's told by Gautier. The great novelist came in one day with a gloomy face. "What's the matter?" asked Gautier. "Matter enough," replied Balzac; "another masterpiece lost to French literature!" "What do you mean?" cried Gautier. "I had a wet dream last night," Balzac replied, "and consequently shall not be able to conceive any good story for at least a fortnight; yet I could certainly write a masterpiece in that time." I found out that the chastity must not be continued too long or one would become too susceptible to mere sensuous pleasure; the semen, so to say, would get into one's blood and affect the healthy current of one's life. But to feel drained for a fortnight after one orgasm and unable to create any thing worth 237

while proves to demonstrate that Balzac, like Shakespeare, must have been of poor virility. Didn't Shakespeare cry at thirty-four or—five: Past reason hunted and no sooner had Past reason hated, an experience that few healthy men reach before fifty-five and some of us, thank God, never reach at all. But self-control or chastity must be practiced by all who wish to realize the highest in themselves or indeed who wish to reach vigorous old age. There are other experiences of this kind that I think just as interesting and important as Balzac's, which I propose to record in this self-history. For example, besides the merits of chastity, I was also to learn that my pleasure in the embrace was not my chief object: as love entered my life I found that the keenest thrill of ecstasy could only be reached through the delight given to your partner. Again in this I resembled Montaigne: "Verily, the pleasure I do others in this sport, both more sweetly tickle my imagination, than that is done unto me." In this volume I shall not be as contemptuous of convention as I was in the first; but I propose to use such freedom of speech as may be necessary, and certainly as much as Chaucer and the best Frenchmen use. After all, the final proof of the pudding is in the eating. If anyone can write as true a record of his time or paint such deep and intimate portraits of great men as I have painted, without using equal freedom of speech, he may condemn me. If no one has or can, then I am justified and in time shall be praised and my example followed. 238

VOLUME TWO CHAPTER I. SKOBELEF

WHEN THE Russian Turkish war broke out in the early summer of 1877, I knew at once how my summer must be spent: I had to find out by experience what modern war was like, and to learn it while getting a sight of Russia and the Balkans and perhaps Turkey seduced me: I must get to the front immediately. With the intuition that now and then comes to English journalists when writing about war, the name of Skobelef, the conqueror of Turkestan, had been blazoned about in half a dozen sheets and had captured my Celtic fancy. I sat down and wrote to him at once in English and French, asking him to allow me to see him at work and to chronicle his doings against the Turks for some American journals. I had already got the consent of two to act as correspondent and promise to pay twenty dollars a column for everything they accepted, which seemed to me, in my utter ignorance, fair enough pay. In June I was in Moscow staying at the Slavianski Bazaar and had written again to Skobelef, begging for a meeting. I soon found out, however, to my astonishment, that Skobelef was not to be commander-in-chief; had indeed no official position and had gone to the seat of war, hoping to make himself useful. The first official position he had, and this after the passing of the Danube and the investment of Plevna, was as a sort of assistant to General Dragomirof. But neither envy nor jealousy could keep that soaring spirit down for long. Wherever he went in the camp he was a marked man: the first thing I heard about him was an obscene jest he had made when they brought him a mare after a horse had been killed under him: "It's the female's business, you think, to be mounted by a man," he was reported to have said. His contempt of convention pleased me hugely. In a few days I got presented to him and thanked him in my best, carefully prepared French for the mot— a shrug of the shoulders and a gleam of amusement in his eyes satisfied me. He would have been more or less than human if he could have resisted my enthusiastic admiration. Years later I was telling Lord Wolseley about it and he said, "It all reminds me of Stanley in my Ashanti campaign, f He came up and asked me to be allowed to accompany me: I was the only person he wanted to know, he said; but he was so self-assured and cool that I told him to go to the proper officer who had charge of the correspondents. From time to time afterwards I noticed him, always pretty close to me; but one day we fell into a sort of ambush and were almost surrounded by the savages. As their fire slackened I remarked a man in grey some forty yards in front of me and to the right; the savages were creeping round him, dodging from tree to tree, and he was in the utmost danger; but he paid no attention to them, shooting very successfully at those in front: his coolness and splendid marksmanship fascinated me. Our troops came up and the savages broke and fled. I could

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not resist going over to see who the marksman was. I found it was my very independent American: he bowed and I had to ask: 'Didn't you see that the blacks had surrounded you?' "'To tell the truth, General,' he remarked, brushing his knee, 'I was so occupied with the gentlemen in front that I paid no attention to the others.' "From that moment on we were friends," Wolseley concluded, "much I imagine as Skobelef and you became friends; courage in a common danger quickly breaks down all barriers." However that may be, Skobelef and I soon became friends. The rich humanity in him and contempt of convention were irresistibly attractive to me; and there was something ingenuous, young in him, which made him accept my enthusiastic admiration, my hero-worship, if you will, without afterthought. I have noticed this naiveté since in other great men of action. In person Skobelef was above middle height, broad and strong; the lower face was concealed by a thick wavy moustache, beard and whiskers all coquettishly brushed away from the centre; the forehead was both broad and high, the nose thick and of Jewish type, the eyes grey and keen; nothing remarkable in the face; the impetuosity of his character showed itself in quick abrupt movements; he always appeared ready to strike; yet underneath there was much kindness in him and a fund of good humour. It was mid-August when he got his first real chance: he had declared a week before that the key of Plevna was a certain fort. "If we had that," he said, "we could make it hot for Osman." By what influence he got command of a large force, I don't know, but probably through the Emperor Alexander himself, of whom Skobelef always spoke with liking. The troops for the assault had to cross a stream and then climb the steep glacis: it had rained heavily the night before and the long slope was slippery. As the Russians began to toil up, the Turkish fire became deafening; but at first was not effective. When the Russians however got three quarters way up, they simply lay down in files. A moment's pause for thought and Skobelef galloped into the meadow, crossed the river and was soon among the fallen Russians. Naturally I was at his heels. Here the Turkish fire was diabolical; I noticed that it had cut down all the bushes near us to a certain height; I couldn't understand why; but Skobelef read the riddle almost immediately; swinging his horse round, he galloped back and gave orders that the men should advance in lines with a hundred yards or so between each line. When the first wave of men reached their fallen comrades, it too seemed to lie down—the Turkish fire was extraordinarily deadly; but the next wave got through and lined up close to the fortress; the third wave again got blotted out; but the fourth pressed on and joined the first line; at once Skobelef galloped up the glacis again and himself led the assault amid the frantic cheers of the men now racing to the redoubt. In his haste Skobelef fell into the ditch and had to be helped free of his horse; but though he was badly shaken 240

and bruised and the officers begged him to go back, he wouldn't listen to them, and as we entered the fort, we saw the Turks stampeding down the other side. A glance at the wall made the Turkish rifle practice clear to me: in order not to expose themselves, the Turkish soldiers had simply placed their rifles on the embrasures and fired away. About five hundred yards down the hill the bullets rained about four feet from the ground. This was the death-zone; a few hundred yards further down the bullets went into the air, three hundred yards higher up they whistled harmlessly overhead. When galloping up the slope Skobelef had noticed that the danger-zone was very narrow and at once seized the whole position and dealt with it victoriously. But he had reckoned without his leaders. As soon as he had distributed the Russian soldiers in the fort, he sent for reinforcements; but none came, no word of answer even to his entreaties. He had won Plevna—the commanding position of the redoubt now would have been clear to a child, but he had lost heavily and had not men enough to sustain an attack in force. The night began to draw down; it was after three o'clock before we got settled in the fort and darkness came slowly, but it came; time and again Skobelef sent for reinforcements; at length he received the information that none could be spared. We were told afterwards that the Tzar himself had urged the general to send the reinforcements but was assured that none could be spared, though it was sun-clear that out of two hundred thousand troops on the field it would have been easy to detach twenty thousand, and a quarter of that force sent to Skobelef would have won Plevna that day in August. When Skobelef was convinced that no help would be sent, he seemed stunned with the disappointment; then rage possessed him, his whole face quivered, tears rolled down his cheeks unheeded while he raved in contempt of his superiors: "The grand dukes hate me," he cried, "and the general staff because I win victories, but who is to hinder them coming in force themselves and getting the credit—who cares for the credit so long as the work's done— oh damn them, damn them and their mean jealousy; they can't spare even five thousand men, the liars and curs!" That night a couple of his officers sat with him and we all drank and discussed probabilities. As it turned out, Skobelef read his adversary Osman more correctly than any of us. "When we don't shell them in the morning," he said, "Osman must come to the conclusion that we are weak and he'll feel us out with an early attack; then we shall have to prepare to get out; but if I had five thousand men and fifty field guns—just what I asked for—I could win Plevna by noon: Osman would have to surrender. The silly envy of our commanders will cost Russia half a million lives and prolong the war six months!" Skobelef taught me that 241

putting yourself in your adversary's place was the essence of generalship. I remember when we were alone he turned to me. "Don't report anything of all this," he said. "No Russian would expose Russian shame; it is as if our mother were in fault, and I don't want the d... d Germans to sneer. Ah, if I could only get a chance against them, I'd show them that our Russian soldiers are the best in the world, incomparable—" and he went on to give instance after instance of their hardihood and contempt of death. It fell out almost exactly as Skobelef had foreseen; but later. It was long after noon when the Turkish soldiers attacked; we had difficulty in holding our own; an hour later Osman threw thirty thousand men more at us and we had to retreat; in an hour the retreat was a stampede and for hours driblets of broken men came limping, staggering and cursing into their previous quarters. Next day Skobelef kept to his rooms. I noticed at once that his reputation had grown immensely: his own officers all knew what he had accomplished and when officers from other commands came to him, they all showed themselves aware of his supreme ability. The fine thing about him was that all the respect and indeed adulation had not the slightest effect on him; when we met afterwards he always treated me with a certain kindly intimacy. Of course nothing could save Plevna: army corps after army corps joined the Russian force, the Turkish communications were cut, Plevna was surrounded: months later Osman surrendered and was nobly received by Skobelef, whom everybody hailed now as the hero of Plevna. Osman riding at the head of his garrison of nearly 100,000 men was a fine sight: he was small and pale and had one arm in a sling from a recent wound, and as he passed at the head of his staff through the Russian ranks, the Russians, led by Skobelef himself, cheered and cheered him again in the noblest way. War is almost worth waging when it brings such honourable distinction to the beaten. But though I learned a good deal in the war, I'm not here to compete with the professional historian. I want to picture Skobelef, who was, with Roberts, the best general I ever met; and the contrast between the two makes them both more interesting. Neither of them was highly intelligent. In the Boer War, Roberts went to church every Sunday and observed all ordinary customs. He was a sincere Christian and followed the lead of his wife in all social affairs. At first he took Kitchener at his face value, and even when at Paardeberg he was forced to realise his nonentity as a soldier, he kept his knowledge to himself for so long that he gave some support to the Kitchener myth. Skobelef, on the other hand, was altogether free of every form of snobbism; indeed, he had a certain sympathy with contempt of discipline and all social observances; some part of "the return to truth" of the nihilists had got into his blood; he hated all insincerities and in so far seemed to me a bigger man than Roberts. In insight and speed of stroke they were very much alike. 242

In the days of inaction that followed the taking and abandonment of the fort, I won Skobelef to tell me of his early life. With huge amusement he confessed that at fourteen or fifteen he was after every pretty girl he came near. One day an uncle found him trying to embrace a young servant in the house; she had just pushed the boy away when the uncle came on the scene. He said quietly, "You ought to be proud to be kissed, my girl, by the young baron." "I had no more difficulty," Skobelef said simply, "the news spread through the house like wildfire, and I had no more refusals." Nothing ever brought the true meaning of serfdom more clearly before me than this little incident. It was as illuminating as a phrase of Kropotkin later, when in his Memoirs of a Revolutionist he tells of the "Oriental practices" in the corps of pages and the countless immoralities and devilish cruelties that reigned during serfdom. Some facts tell volumes. When a soldier or servant was punished by flogging, if he died under the knout, the full tale of lashes was inflicted on his insentient corpse. And marriage among the serfs was often arranged by the master without any regard for love or individual preference. "Did you go often with your pretty maid?" I asked. "Continually," Skobelef laughed, "and when it wasn't that one, it was one of the others. I had them all, every girl and woman in the place from thirteen to fifty, but I liked the older ones best," he added meditatively. "If I had not had to go to school, I'd have killed myself with them; as it was I weakened myself so that now, at about forty, I'm practically impotent. Since I was five and twenty it takes some extraordinary circumstance, such as a drinking bout, to bring me up to the scratch!" "Good God!" I cried. "What a dreadful fate!" Till then I had no idea that the patrimony of sex-pleasure was so limited. "You must have been angry with yourself and regretted your early indulgences terribly?" I probed. "No," he replied, "No! I've had a pretty good time on the whole; and if I took double mouthfuls as a boy, as the French say, I have now many sweet memories. Oh, in Petersburg as a young man I had golden hours; there I met veritable passion, desire to match my own, and an understanding of life, a resolve to do great things and not be hampered by conventions—I remember my love let me have her, one day, in her dressing room, when everyone was ready to go driving; and they called and called her— Ah, life's victorious moments are all we get!" The whole confession was out of my very heart, only I was resolved to be wiser and make the pleasure last longer. Two little scenes of this campaign made an impression on me. It was after the capture of a town called Lovtcha, I think: Skobelef and his staff came upon a 243

lot of wounded Turks who had been dumped on the wayside by their comrades days before, men dying and dead, the wounded curled up in a hundred attitudes. Skobelef told the interpreter to ask them what they'd like before being taken to the field hospital; they all asked for food, but one big Turk with head all bandaged up asked for a cigarette. At once Skobelef leant down from his horse and offered his own cigarette case. The Turk took it, an officer gave him a match, and he puffed out the smoke with an air of ineffable content. And then by way of return he undid the knot of his bandage and began to unwind the dirty linen that covered his head. In spite of Skobelef's gesture and prayer not to do it, he went on, and as the last fold was plucked loose, in spite of the sticky blood, the man's half-jaw fell on his chest. The other half had evidently been taken off by a shell—a most horrible sight—but the Turk smiled, held his half-jaw up and began winding on the linen bandage again. When he had secured it, in went the cigarette again into his mouth and he smiled up at us his liveliest gratitude. "Fine men," said Skobelef, "great soldiers!" And they were—and are! One more scene. As an Englishman I managed to get down to Adrianople long before the Russian troops. I wanted to see Constantinople and the Turks before resuming work. At one station, I forget its name, I had to stay a day or two. The caravanserai was a miserable makeshift: one morning I heard that some Russian prisoners had been brought in and I went out and found a line of them outside the station sitting on benches and guarded by half a dozen Turks; one gigantic Turk marched up and down in front of the poor captives, scowling and muttering. I told the interpreter who was with me to go off and find a Turkish officer or the Russians would be murdered; he ran off at once. Suddenly the big Turk stopped in front of a bearded Russian at one end of the line, seized him by the beard and hair, wrenched his mouth open, and spat down his throat—I never saw such a gesture of hate and savage rage. My blood boiled, but I could do nothing except pray for the coming of some officer. Fortunately one came in time, and the poor Russians were saved. I never saw Skobelef after that fall, but he remains to me as a splendid memory and I shall tell now of his end. I was praising him one day in London when a Russian officer who was in the Russian embassy told me how he died. "You know he was our hero," he began. "There are more photographs of Skobelef in our peasant homes throughout Russia than even of the Tzar. And his end was wonderful: he had come to Moscow to review a couple of army corps; as usual, after the review, when he was very severe on some officers, he asked a lot of us junior ones to dine with him in the Slavianski Bazaar; to take away the sting of his sharp criticism, I fancy. Of course we all turned up, proud as peacocks at being asked, and we had a great feast. "Afterwards someone suggested that we should adjourn to Madame X's, who had a house in a neighboring street. Nothing loath, Skobelef, to our astonishment, consented and we all went round, picked our girls and disappeared into bedrooms. After midnight I heard a mad screaming, and just as I was I opened 244

my door and found in the passage the girl Skobelef had chosen. "The General is dead!' she cried. "'Dead!' I yelled. 'What do you mean? Lead the way,' and back she took me, sobbing hysterically, to her bedroom. There lay Skobelef, motionless, with eyes wide open, staring at the ceiling; I called him, put my hand and then my ear on his heart. It had stopped. I looked at the girl. 'It wasn't my fault' she cried. 'Really, it wasn't!' "I hastened back to my bedroom and dressed myself hurriedly; already every officer was up; we went to the keeper of the brothel and said we must take the general at once back to the Slaviansky Bazaar, his hotel. But the keeper said, 'It's forbidden: the police regulation prevents it; you must first get permission!' At once a couple of us rushed downstairs and drove to the police headquarters, but even there we could do nothing. Only the governor of Moscow, it seemed, could give us the permission. So off we raced to the palace. As ill-luck would have it, the governor was at his villa outside the town, so we had to take a droshky and drive like mad. At about three in the morning we knocked him up, got the necessary permission, and hurried back to the brothel. "The General was cold and stiff: it was incredibly difficult to dress him, but it had to be done; and then my friend took him by one arm and I by the other and we half-led, half-carried him out to the carriage. Neither of us had thought of the time. Alas! It was already day and to our astonishment the news had got out and the streets were crowded with people. As soon as they saw us half-carrying Skobelef, they all knelt down on the sidewalk and in the street, the dear people, and crossing themselves began to pray for the rest of his soul! "It was through a kneeling crowd that we took our hero to the Slaviansky Bazaar and laid him on his bed. And the piety of the Russian people is such, its admiration of greatness so profound, that the story has never got out or been in print. Do you wonder that some of us always think of our fatherland as Holy Russia?" As I listened to this story, the great words of Blake came into my mind, the final word for all of us mortals: And throughout all Eternity I forgive you, you forgive me: As our dear Redeemer said This is the wine and this is the bread. 245

CHAPTER II. HOW I CAME TO KNOW SHAKESPEARE AND GERMAN STUDENT CUSTOMS WHY I WENT TO HEIDELBERG and not to Berlin to study I can't say; there was a touch of romance in the name which probably drew me. I had over fifteen hundred pounds in the bank and thought it would keep me five years and allow me to return to the States to begin my life's work with at least a thousand pounds in my pocket. But was I going back to America? I had to confess to myself that the malarial fever in the States daunted me; besides I liked England better and so put off any decision. Already the proverb influenced me: not to cross a river till you come to it. Heidelberg fascinated me; I loved its beauty, the great forest-clad hills about it, its river, its ruined castle, its plain, business-like university, its Cafe Leer, its bookshops—everything. I went to the Hotel de l'Europe for a week and found it expensive; but the Rhine wines are delicious and not dear: the Marcobrunner and Liebfraumilch of ten years of age taught me what scent and flavour wine could possess. On the river I got to know a couple of young Americans, Treadwell by name, with whom I soon struck up a friendship. I had gone to the riverside hoping to get a boat for a row: a stalwart young fellow was just paying for his canoe. "Kann ich?" I hesitated, pointing to his skiff, "Ja wohl!" was the loud genial answer. "But you're an Englishman?" he added in English. "American rather," I replied, and my acquaintance soon confided to me that he and his younger brother had been brought up in a German school and that he was studying chemistry and was already an assistant of the celebrated Professor Bunsen, the man who first discovered the chemical composition of the stars and the inventor of the spectroscope. Here were wonders! I was on fire to learn more, to meet Bunsen. "Could I?" "Surely!" I thrilled. This elder Treadwell was a personable fellow, perhaps five feet nine in height and evidently vigorous, clean-shaven, with strong features and alert expression; but I soon discovered that in spite of his knowledge of quantitative and qualitative analysis, he was not intellectual in my understanding of the word. His younger brother, who had just entered the university to continue the study of philology, pleased me more. He was about my own size and learned already in Latin and Greek, German and French; thoughtful, too, with indwelling grey eyes. "A fine mind," I concluded, "though immature," and we soon became friends. Through him I went to live in a pension where he and his brother boarded and where my living cost me less than a pound a week. The living was excellent because the pension was kept by a large motherly Englishwoman, widow of a German professor, who was a maitresse jemme of the wisest and kindliest. There I met a Mr. Onions who had won all sorts of honours in Oxford and who soon became a sort of pal, for he, too, loved literature as I did and seemed to me inconceivably clever; for he wrote brilliant Latin and Greek verses and in

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three months had mastered German, though he didn't speak it well. Onions confessed that he studied German three of four hours every morning, so I did the same and gave three or four more hours to it every afternoon. One day he astonished and pleased me by saying that I must have a genius for languages, for my German was already better than his. At any rate I spoke it more fluently; for I talked it whenever I got the opportunity while he was rather silent. Naturally young Tread well introduced me to the university; I took all his lectures and worked night and day to the limiting of sleep and exercise. In three months I spoke German fluently and correctly and had read Lessing, Schiller, Heine's Lieder, and all the ordinary novels, especially Soil und Haben. But I had not won much from the university lectures. I had heard one set of lectures on the Greek verb; but after two months the professor was still enmeshed in Sanskrit, and as I did not know a word of Sanskrit or its significance, I found it difficult to follow him. I was indeed continually reminded of Heine's experience. He had been hearing lectures on universal history, he tells us, but after three years' assiduous attendance he gave them up, for the professor had not yet reached the time of Sesostris. Kuno Fischerff was at this time perhaps the most popular professor in Heidelberg: he had announced a series of lectures on Shakespeare and Goethe and the aula was crammed not only by students, but by ladies and gentlemen from the town. Fischer had a face like a bulldog's and his nose had been split in a duel, which increased the likeness; he began by calling Shakespeare and Goethe the twin flowers of the Germanic race; I was still English enough to think the phrase almost a blasphemy, so I rubbed my feet loudly on the floor as a sign of disapproval or disagreement (ich scharrte). Fischer paused in utter surprise (it was the first tune, he told me afterwards, that he had ever been so interrupted): then, putting a manifest constraint on himself, he said: "If the gentleman who disagrees with me so emphatically will wait till I have finished, I will ask him to state the ground of his disapproval." There was applause throughout the audience at this and the men who were in my neighbourhood glared at me in angry surprise. Fischer went on to say that "the very name of Shakespeare showed his Teutonic ancestry; he was as German as Goethe." I smiled to myself, but I could not deny that the rest of the lecture was interesting, though the professor hardly attempted to realize either man. At the end he contrasted their schooling and congratulated his hearers on the fact that Goethe had enjoyed far superior educational opportunities and had turned them to brilliant account. The audience applauded enthusiastically as he sat down. Fischer, however, rose again immediately and holding out his 247

hand for silence added: "If the critic who made his disagreement at the beginning of my lecture so manifest now desires to explain, I'm sure we will hear him willingly." I got up and stammered a little, as if embarrassed, while asking the audience and the professor to excuse my faulty German. But as a Welsh Celt, I said, "What I feel is that the eloquent Professor is over praising the Teutons and especially their superior education. Superior!" I repeated; "Shakespeare has given us the drama of first love in Romeo and Juliet and of mature passion in Antony and Cleopatra, of jealousy in Othello, the malady of thought in Hamlet and madness in Lear; and against these Goethe has given Faust alone as a proof of his 'superior' advantages! "But 'Shake' and 'speare' are Teuton, we are told. Now English is an amalgam of low German and of French; but curiously enough, all the higher words are French and only the poor monosyllables are Teuton; for example, mutton is French while "sheep" or "schaf" is pure German. I had always imagined," I added after a pause, "that 'Shakespeare' was plainly taken from the French and was a manifest corruption of 'Jacques Pierre'"—at this the audience began to titter and Fischer, entering into the joke, clapped his hands, smiling. Naturally, my effect achieved, I sat down at once. As I was leaving the hall Fischer's servant came and told me the professor would like to see me in his room; of course I followed him at once and Fischer met me laughing. "Ein genialer Stretch! A genial invention," he said, "and no worse than many of our etymologies," and then seriously, "You made an admirable defence of Shakespeare, though I think Goethe has a good deal more to his credit than Faust." This is what I remember of the beginning of a talk destined to alter my whole life. When I told Fischer of the to me incomprehensible lectures on the Greek verb and other similar difficulties, he asked about my studies and then told me that most of the American students in Germany were not sufficiently well-grounded in Latin and Greek to make the most of the advantages offered them in a German university. Finally, he advised me strongly to shave off my moustache and go for a year into a gymnasium —school again for me, at twenty odd! My whole nature revolted wildly; yet Fischer was insistent and persuasive. He asked me to his house, introduced me to a Professor Ihne, who had been a teacher of the Kaiser's children or something very honourable, and who talked excellent English. He agreed with Fischer and Fischer won the day by remarking: "Harris has brains; his speech taught us all that, and you'll agree that the more talent he has, the more necessary is a thorough grounding." The end of it was that I consented, left my boardinghouse, went to live with a family, attended the gymnasium regularly and buried myself in Latin and Greek for eight or ten months, during which I worked on an average twelve hours a day. 248

In four or five months I was among the best in the gymnasium: indeed, only one boy was indisputably above me. When a Latin theme was set, he used to write 'Livy' or 'Tacitus' or 'Caesar' at the head and never used an idiom or a word that he could not show in the special author he was imitating. Twice a week at least the professor used to read out his essay to us, emphasizing the most characteristic sentences. Of course I became friends with the youth, Carl Schurz; I was resolved to find out how he had gained such mastery. He said, "'Twas easy"; he had begun with Caesar, and after reading a page tried to turn it back into Caesar's language; his Latin, he soon found, was all wrong, a mere mishmash, so he began to learn all the peculiar phrases in his daily lesson in Caesar; gradually he discovered that every writer had his own peculiar way of speaking, and even his own vocabulary. That gave me the cue. I went home and took up my Shakespeare. I had already noticed similarities between Hamlet and Macbeth; now I began to read for them and incidentally learned all the poetic passages by heart. Soon I began to catch the accent of Shakespeare's voice, hear when he spoke from the heart, and when from the lips; glimpses of his personality grew upon me, and one day I sat down to rewrite Hamlet, using my memory and thought. When I came to the scene in which Hamlet reproaches his guilty mother, I became aware of a Shakespeare I had dimly suspected. Visualizing the scene I saw at once how impossible it would be to write it. No man could possibly reproach his mother in that way. Hamlet was using the language of sexjealousy: my mother's infidelity would never have maddened me. I could not judge her temptation or my father's faults towards her. His goodness would make her sinning the more incomprehensible, and Hamlet's mother does not attempt to justify herself or explain. The ray of light came, inevitable, soulrevealing: Shakespeare was painting his own jealousy, and was raging not at his mother's sin, but at his love's betrayal; 'twas clear, every outburst reeked with sex. Who was it that had deceived Shakespeare and crazed him with jealousy? Who? The riddle began to intrigue me. In the long vacation which I spent in Fluelen on the Lake of Lucerne, I read and reread Shakespeare. It was his Richard the Second that revealed him to me unmistakably; Richard was so plainly a younger, more unstable Hamlet, just as Posthumus and Prospero were older, staider Hamlets. I hugged myself for the discovery; why hadn't everyone seen the truth? Time and again I read him and all manner of sidelights fell on the page, till the very fashion of his soul became familiar to me. Long before Tyler's book appeared and discovered Queen Elizabeth's maid of honour, Mary Fitton, as Shakespeare's mistress, I knew that in 1596 he had fallen in love with a dark gipsy, with fair skin, who treated him with disdain and was both witty and loose. Why else should he let Rosaline be thus minutely described in Romeo and Juliet, though she never appears on the stage, while there's not a word of bodily description about Juliet, the heroine? 249

In the same year, too, he revised Love's Labour's Lost at Christmas to be played at Court, and the heroine was Rosaline again, and every character in the piece describes her physically; and Shakespeare himself as Byron rages against his love for "a whitely wanton with two pitch balls in her face for eyes!" I could not but see, too, that she was the Dark Lady of the Sonnets— probably some lady of the court, I used to say, who looked down on Shakespeare from the height of aristocratic birth and breeding. Strange to say, I did not at that time go on to identify her with "false Cressid" or with Cleopatra. I did not get as far as this till I fell across Tyler's book years later and saw that he had confined Shakespeare's passion to the "three years" spoken of in the sonnets. I knew then that Shakespeare had loved his gipsy, Mary Fitton, from the end of 1596 on; and I soon came to see that the story told in the sonnets was told also in his plays of that period; and finally I was forced to realize that "false Cressid" and the gipsy Cleopatra were also portraits of Mary Fitton, whom he loved for twelve years down to 1608, when she married and left London for good. I shall always remember those great months spent in Fluelen, when I climbed all the mountains about the lake and twice walked over the St. Gothard and lived with "gentle Shakespeare's" sweet spirit and noble fairness of mind. One important result this discovery of Shakespeare had upon me; it strengthened my self-esteem enormously. I picked up Coleridge's essays on Shakespeare and saw that his Puritanism had blinded him to the truth and I began to think that in time I might write something memorable. When the time came to go back to work I returned to Heidelberg, entered again at the university and resolved to read no more Latin except Tacitus and Catullus. I knew there were beautiful descriptions in Virgil, but I didn't like the language and saw no reason for prolonging my study of it in seminar if I could get out of it. My next lesson in German life was peculiar. I was walking in one of the side streets with an English boy of fourteen or so who was living with Professor Ihne, when we met a tall young corps-student who pushed me roughly off the sidewalk into the street. "What a rude brute," I said to my companion. "No, no!" the boy cried in wild excitement, "All he did was to rempeln you!" "What does that mean?" I asked. "It's his way of asking you, will you fight?" "All right," I cried, and ran back after my rude gentleman. As I came up he stopped. "Did you push me on purpose?" I asked. 250

"I believe I did," he replied haughtily. "Then guard yourself," I said, and next moment I had thrown my stick into the gutter and hit him as hard as I could on the jaw. He went down like a log and lay where he fell. Just as I bent over him to see whether he was really hurt, there poured out from all the near-by shops a crowd of excited Germans. One, I remember, was a stout butcher who ran across the street and caught hold of my left arm: "Run and fetch the police," he cried to his assistant; "I'll hold him." "Let go!" I said to him. "He told me he had pushed me on purpose." "I saw you," exclaimed the butcher. "You hit him with the stick; how else could you have knocked him senseless?" "If you don't let go," I said, "and keep your hands to yourself, I'll show you." And as he tried to increase his grip, I pushed him into proper position with my left arm, at the same time hitting him as hard as I could on the point of the jaw with my free right hand. Down he went like a sack full of coal; the crowd gave way with much loud cursing and my little companion and myself went on our way. "How strong you must be!" was his first remark. "Not especially," I replied, mock modest, "but I know where to hit and how to hit." I thought the matter finished and done with, for I had seen the student get up hugging his jaw and knew there was no serious damage; but next morning I was in my rooms reading when six German policemen came to the door and took me away with them to a judge. He questioned me and I answered; the case against me would have been dismissed, I was told, had it not been for the butcher's lie that he saw me strike the student with my stick and the stick was found to be loaded. No German of that time could believe that a blow with the fist of a rather small man could be so effective. The student's face was bound up as if his jaw had been broken. The result was I was bound over to come up for trial; and in due time I was tried and convicted of groben Unfugs auf der Strasse, or, as one would say in English, "a rude assault on the street," and sentenced to six weeks in Carcer and dismissal from the university. 251

CHAPTER III. GERMAN STUDENT LIFE AND PLEASURE MY LIFE IN CARCER, the student prison, was simply amusing. Thanks to my "tips" to the jailors and Kuno Fischer's kind words about me to the authorities, I saw friends who visited me from ten in the morning till seven at night; and after that I had lights in my room and could read or write till midnight. My friends, especially my English and American friends, took pleasure in bringing with them all sorts of delicacies, and so my meals ordered from a near-by restaurant became feasts. I used to let down a stout string from my barred window and draw up bottles of Rhine wine; in fact, I lived like a "fighting cock," to use the good English phrase, and had nothing to complain of save want of exercise. But the detention strengthened curiously my dislike of what men speak of as justice. At the trial the student whom I had knocked down told the truth, that he had pushed me rudely and on purpose off the sidewalk without any provocation; but the judge tried to believe the butcher, who swore that I had used my stick on the student, though he admitted that I had struck him with my fist. The boy who accompanied me told the exact truth; everyone expected I'd get off with a caution, but my ignorance of German insults and how to accept them got me six weeks' confinement. And when I came out, I had to leave Heidelberg and was not allowed even to finish the lectures I had paid for. I had already been turned out of the University of Kansas and now out of Heidelberg. But Kuno Fischer and other professors remained my very good friends. Fischer advised me to go to Goettingen, "a purely German university," and hear the lectures of Lotze, who was, he said, among the best German philosophers of the time, and he gave me letters that ensured my immediate admission. Goettingen had many and special attractions for me, partly because it was famous for the best German in accent and in choice of words, partly because Bismarck and Heine had studied there—and already both these men were throned high in my admiration—Bismarck for qualities of character, Heine for intellect and humour. Already the essence of my religion was to learn to know great men and if possible understand their virtues and powers. So I migrated to Goettingen. But before telling of anything that happened to me there, I must say something of my amusements in the summer months I had passed in Heidelberg. I had tasted all the English and German pleasures: I had rowed on the river nearly every day keeping myself physically fit, and had taken long walks to the Koenigstuhl and all over the neighboring hills. I had learned a good deal of German music through going to the opera at Mannheim and hearing my American fellow student, Waldstein, praise Wagner and the other masters by the hour, while exemplifying their work at the same time on his piano. I had a fair acquaintance with German poetry and novels, though I had resolved not to try to read Goethe till I knew German as well as I knew English, and strange to say, I underrated Heine, in spite of the fact that I knew half his poems by heart and took delight in his Reisebilder. But the German opinion of the time placed Schiller infinitely higher and I sucked in the nonsense dutifully. Indeed, it was years before I placed Heine as far above

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Schiller in thought as the poet is generally above the rhetorician: and it took years more before I began to couple Heine with Goethe; and quarter of a century passed before I realized that Heine was a better writer of prose than even Goethe and the greatest humorist that ever lived. Common opinion about great men is so wildly beside the mark that even I could not free myself from its bondage for half a lifetime. My steadily growing admiration of Heine has often made me excuse the false estimates of other men and taught me to be more patient of their misjudging than I otherwise should have been. I was over fifty years of age myself before I began to recognize the myriad manifestations of genius with immediate certitude. I thank fortune that I wrote none of my portraits till I had climbed the height. But I began my acquaintance with Wagner and Bach, Mozart and Beethoven, Schiller and Heine here in Heidelberg and was delighted to find my heaven lit by such radiant new stars. My sex-life in Heidelberg was not by any means so rich. While I was learning the language I had few opportunities of flirting and I had already found out that my tongue was my best recommendation to girls. Before I begin to tell of my sex experiences in Heidelberg, I must relate an incident that was vital with results for me. While a master at Brighton College I had got to know Dr. Robson Roose quite ultimately, and when dining at his house with men only one evening, the conversation came on circumcision. I was astonished when a surgeon who was present declared that the small proportion of Jews who were syphilized owed their comparative immunity to circumcision, which hardened the skin of the man's sex. "Syphilis is only caught through the abrasion of the cuticle," he explained. "Harden the cuticle by exposure and you make it more difficult to catch the disease. All the morality of the Old Testament," he continued, "is hygienic: the Mosaic laws of morals were all laws of health." "It would be wise, then, for all of us to get circumcised?" I asked, laughing; and he replied: "If I were a lawgiver I would make it one of the "first commandments." Immediately I made up my mind to get circumcised. I felt sure, too, that the hardening of the cuticle would prolong the act, and already I had begun to notice that in my case the act was usually too quickly finished. Moreover, my power of repeating it was decreasing year by year and in the same proportion the desire to prolong the pleasure was growing keener; for in this, too, I was like Montaigne, who had to admit in that wonderful fifth chapter of the third book that he was "faulty in suddaine-ness" and had "to stay the fleeting pleasure and delay it with preambles." He loved to lie, as he puts it, "at Racke and Manger," for these "snatches and away marre the grace of it." As soon, then, as my work at Brighton College was finished I went to bed and was circumcised. Though the surgeon had assured me that I'd feel no pain, I felt a good deal, and for ten days after was in misery many times each day, for 253

a chance touch of my organ caused me acute suffering. During my first summer months in Heidelberg my prepuce contracted so that the act would have been difficult besides being painful, and this compulsory chastity taught me the most important lesson of my life. It taught me that absolutely complete chastity enabled me to work longer hours than I had ever worked: it was impossible to tire myself; in fact, I was endowed, so to speak, with an intense energy that made study a pleasure and with a vivid clearness of understanding such as I had never before experienced. At first I thought there must be some virtue in the climate; but one wet-dream made me realize that the power was in the pent-up semen. I began to make up my mind to sacrifice many pleasures in the future in order to keep this intense energy and sense of abounding vigour. I recognized that I had been all too often the spoil of opportunity and very frequently had sought pleasure when I was not even really in love. Time and again, too, I had given myself out of false vanity when I would rather have restrained myself. In fine, I began at this time to make up my mind only to sacrifice my strength when I was really attracted, or better still, only then when I was deeply in love. I would cease playing the fool, I resolved; I had acted the giddy idiot who squanders his patrimony without any understanding of its value; I would now turn over a new leaf and make an art of life. How had I been so blind, so foolish! I realized that I had already seriously diminished my capital of vigour, so to speak. In Brighton I had found it difficult to have two embraces in succession, whereas five years before at eighteen there was hardly any limit set. I resolved to restrain myself rigorously and get back to my former vigour, if indeed it were in any way possible. From this time on I date my Lehrjahre, as the Germans call the prenticeyears. I came to see later that I owed my salvation to the chance of circumcision, or as my vanity put it, to the desire to make myself as perfect as possible, which was the reason why I had undergone the pain of the operation. A word of Goethe came to me fraught with significance to mark this crisis: In der Beherrschung zeigt sich erst der Meister (In self-control the master reveals himself.) Two experiences at Heidelberg illustrate for me this new attitude towards life. I had met a rather pretty girl on the river bank one day; began a conversation with her and accompanied her to her house, where, she told me, she lived with a sister. It was getting dark and in a shady place I kissed her, and when she kissed me, warmly my naughty hand found its way up her clothes, and I found her sex ready for the embrace. Already this fact warned and chilled me: I was resolved never to go with any public woman; determined to pay, but restrain myself. In the sitting-room she 254

introduced me to her elder sister, who was chatting with a stout student who had just called. We all fraternized quickly. I soon ordered a bottle of Rhine-wine; the student preferred beer and soon betrayed himself as a most enthusiastic admirer of Kuno Fischer. Suddenly he said, "You know, Marthe and I are great friends," and he indicated the elder sister, "and I came here tonight to make love to her." "Go to it," I said. "I won't balk you: if I disturb you, I'll go." "You don't disturb us, does he Marthe?" and he suited the action to the word by getting up and leading the girl to the sofa at the side of the room. "Go into the bedroom!" cried my girl, Katchen, and Marthe followed her advice. They were ten minutes gone, but their proximity seemed to affect Katchen, who kissed me, again and again, passionately. When the student returned he threw four marks on the table, kissed his girl perfunctorily, saying, "I leave one for the Bier," and then addressed me, "Are you coming?" which gave me my chance. I turned to Katchen, gave her ten marks, kissed her hands and her eyes and followed the student out of the house. I had escaped without being too rude, for Katchen thanked me warmly for the gold piece and begged me with eyes and lips to return whenever I could, but—I could not stand the student or his talk. There was something so common, so animal in the whole performance that I hastened to say "Good night" to him and take thought by myself. I was frankly disgusted; quite clearly I saw then for the first time that there must be some admiration, some spiritual attraction, or the act would leave me cold. If the fellow had even admired the girl's figure, I said to myself, or her pretty Gretchen face, it would have redeemed the business; but this coupling like animals, brutalized by the four marks thrown on the table, and the curt leave taking—No! It was disgusting and a stain on the name of love. And now for a better and more memorable experience. I had gone to balls twice or three tunes in the Heidelberg because a friend wished me to accompany him or to complete a gay party. I seldom went of my own accord because dancing made me excessively giddy, as I have already related. But at one ball I was introduced to a Miss Betsy C, an English girl of a good type, very well dressed and extraordinarily pretty, though very small. She stood out among the large German frauleins like a moss-rose wrapped in a delicate greenery to heighten her entrancing color, and at once I told her this and assured her that she had the most magnificent dark eyes I had ever seen; for bashfulness I had never felt, and I knew that praise was as the breath of life to every woman. We became friends at once, but to my 255

disappointment, she told me she was going next day to Frankfort, where some friends would meet her the day after to accompany her back to England. Before I thought of what I was letting myself in for, I told her I would love to go to Frankfort with her and show her Goethe's birth-place and the Goethe- Haus; would she accept my escort? Would she? The great brown eyes danced with the thought of adventure and companionship—I was in for it—was this my next-born resolution of restraint? Was this my first essay in making an art of my life? Yet I didn't even think of excusing myself: Bessie was too pretty and too alluring, with a quiet humour that appealed to me intensely. A big German girl passed us and Bessie, looking at her arms, said, "I never knew what 'mottled' was before. I've seen advertisements of 'mottled soap'; but 'mottled' arms! They're not pretty, are they?" Bessie was worse than pretty; under medium height but rounded in entrancing curves to beauty; her face piquant; the dark eyes now gleaming in malice, now deep in self-revealing; her arms exquisite and the small mounds of white breasts half hidden, half discovered by the lacy dress. No wonder I asked, "What time is your train? Shall I take you to the Bahnhof?" "We'll meet at the station," she said, with a glint in her eye, "but you must be very kind and good!" Had she ever given herself? Did this last admonition mean she would not yield to me? I was in a fever but resolved to be amiable as well as bold. Next morning we met at the station and had a great talk; and at Frankfort I drove with her straight to the best hotel, walked boldly to the desk and ordered two good rooms communicating; and signed the register Mr. and Mrs. Harris. We were shown rooms on the second floor: our English appearance had got us the best in the house, and as my luck would have it, the second smaller bedroom had the key and bolt, so that I could reckon at least on a fair chance. But at once I opened the door between the rooms and helped her with her outside wraps and then, taking her head in my hands, kissed her on the mouth. At once, almost, her lips grew warm, which seemed to me the best omen. I said to her, "You'll knock when you're ready, won't you? Or come in to me?" She smiled, reassured by my withdrawal, and nodded gaily, "I'll call!" I spent the whole day with her and talked my best, telling her of Goethe's many love affairs and of Gretchen-Frederika. After dinner we went out for a walk and then returned to the hotel and went up to our bedrooms. I went into my room and closed the door, my heart throbbing heavily, my mouth all parched as in fever. I must cheat time, I said to myself, and so I put on my best suit of pyjamas, a sort of white stuff with threads of gold in it. And 256

then I waited for the summons, but none came. I looked at my watch: it was twenty minutes since we parted; I must give her half an hour at least. "Would she call me?" She had said she would. "Would she yield easily?" Again, as my imagination recalled her wilful, mutinous face and lovely eyes, my heart began to thump! At last the half hour was up; should I go in? Yes, I would, and I walked over to the door and listened—not a sound. I turned the handle; the room was entirely in the dark. I moved quickly to the lights and turned them on: there she was in bed, with only her little face showing and the great eyes. In a second I was by her side. "You promised to call me," I said. "Put out the light!" she begged. Without making any reply I pulled down the clothes and got in beside her. "You'll be good!" she pouted. "I'll try," was my noncommittal answer, and I slipped my left arm under her and drew her lips to mine. I was thrilled by the slightness and warmth of her, and at first I just took her mouth and held her close to the heat of my body. In a moment or two her lips grew hot and I put my hand down to lift her nightie: "No, no!" she resisted, pouting. "You promised to be good." "There's nothing bad in this," I said, persevering, and the next moment I had my hand on her sex. With a sigh she resigned herself and gave her lips. After caressing her for a minute or two her sex opened and I could move her legs apart, so at once I put her hand on my sex. My excitement was so intense that I felt a good deal of pain; but I was past caring for pain. In a moment I was between her legs with my sex caressing her sex; the great eyes closed, but as I sought to enter her she shrank back with a cry of pain: "Oo, oo! It's terrible— please stop; oh, you said you'd be good." Of course I kissed her, smiling, and went back to the caressing. Naturally, in a few minutes I was again trying to enter paradise; but at once the cries of pain began again and the entreaties to stop and be good and I'll love you so. She was so pretty in her entreating that I said: "Let me see, and if I hurt you, I'll stop," and drew down in the bed to look. The fools are always saying that one sex of a woman is very like another; it is absolutely false; they are as different as mouths and this I was looking at was one of the most lovely I had ever seen. As she lay there before me I could not help exclaiming, "You dear, pocket Venus!" She was so dainty-small, but the damage done was undeniable; there was blood on her sex and a spot of blood on one lovely little round thigh; and at the same moment I noticed that my infernal prepuce had shrunk and now hurt me dreadfully, compressing my sex with a ring of iron. For some obscure reason, half of pity, half of affection for the little beauty, I moved and lay beside her as at first, saying: "I'll do whatever you wish; I love you so much, I hate to hurt you so." "Oh, you great dear," she cried, and her arms went round my neck and she kissed me of her own accord a hundred tunes. A little later I lifted her upon me, naked body to naked body, and was ravished by the sheer beauty of her. 257

I must have spent an hour in fondling and caressing her; continually I discovered new beauties in her; time and again I pushed her nightie up to her neck, delighting in the plastic beauty of her figure; but Bessie showed no wish to see me or excite me. Why? Girls are a strange folk, I decided, but I soon found she was as greedy of praise as could be, so I told her what an impression she had made at the ball and how a dozen students had asked me to introduce them, saying she was the queen of the evening. At length she fell asleep in my arms and I must have slept, too, for it was four in the morning before I awoke, turned out the lights and crept to my own room. I had acted unselfishly, spared Bessie: to give her merely pain for my thrill of pleasure would not have been fair, I thought; I was rather pleased with myself. When I awoke in the morning, I hastened to her, but found she was getting up and did not want to be disturbed; she'd be ready before me, she said, and she wished to see the town and shops before her friends came for her at two o'clock. I followed her wishes, bolted the door between our rooms, took her for a drive, gave her lunch, said "Good-bye" afterwards. When I assured her that nothing had been done, she said that I was a darling, promised to write and kissed me warmly; but I felt a shade of reticence in her, a something of reserve too slight to be defined, and on the train back to Heidelberg I put my fears down to fancy. But though I wrote to her English address I received no answer. Had I lost her through sparing her? What a puzzle women were! Was Virgil right with his spretae injuria formae? the hatred that comes in them if their beauty is not triumphant? Do they forgive anything sooner than selfcontrol? I was angry with myself and resolved not to be such an unselfish fool next time. 258

CHAPTER IV. GOETHE, WILLIAM I, BISMARCK, WAGNER I had long been aware that there was something rotten in the core of our social system. I had seen that while immense fortunes were accumulating, the working classes, the creators of wealth, were steeped in the most abject poverty. (Disraeli) MY LIFE AT GOTTINGEN at first was all work: study from morning till night; I grudged even the time to bathe and dress myself, and instead of walking a couple of hours a day for exercise, I got into the habit of sprinting a hundred yards or so twice a day, and once at least daily would trot for about half a mile. I thus managed to keep physically fit. Besides working at German I read philosophy, the Greek thinkers and above all Plato: ... The divine One If one reads the Gods aright By their motions as they shine on In an endless trail of Light. And then the English thinkers, such as Hobbes, Locke and Hume, and the French, especially Pascal and Joubert, and of course the Germans with Kant, the master of modern scepticism, and Schopenhauer, whose ordinary essays show greatness of mind and soul. All these men, I saw, are moments in the growth of human thought, and I turned away from the speculations, feeling that I included most of them in my own development. One incident of this life may be worth recording: Lotze, the famous philosopher who preached a God immanent in every form of life, remarked once in seminar that the via media of Aristotle was the first and greatest discovery in morals. I disagreed with him, and when he asked me for my reasons, I said that the via media belonged to statics, whereas morals were a part of dynamics. A bottle of wine might do me good and make another man drunk: the moral path was never a straight or middle line between extremes, as Aristotle imagined, but the resultant of two forces, a curve, therefore, always making towards one side or the other. As one's years increase, after thirty or so, the curve should set towards abstinence. Stirb und Werde! Denn wenn Du das nicht hast Bist Du nur ein truber Gast Auf der dunklen Erde. Lotze made a great fuss about this; asked me, indeed, to lecture to the class on laws of morals, and I talked one afternoon on all the virtues of chastity. It must be remembered that I was years older than the majority of the students.

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My student life in the walled town was all in extremes: by turns sterile and fruitful. I learned German thoroughly; wasted a year indeed on Gothic, and Old High German and Middle High German, too, till I knew German as well as I knew English, and the Niebelungenlied better than I knew Chaucer. Twice I went on public platforms and spoke in great meetings and no one suspected that I was a foreigner—all vanity and waste of tune, as I had to learn later. But at length I read Goethe, everything he had written, in chronological order, and so came into the modern world by the noblest entrance and stood breathless, enthralled by the Pisgah heights and the vision of what may come when men learn to develop their minds as some, even now, know how to develop their bodies. This was Goethe's supreme gift to men; he taught the duty of self-development to each of us and it is the first and chief duty; he preached culture as a creed, and even to those of us who had felt it beforehand and acted on it, his example was an inspiration. Later I saw that if Goethe had only had Whitman's pluck and had published the naughty poems and dramas that Eckermann tells us about and the true story of his life, he would have stood to the modern world as Shakespeare Und so lang du das nicht hast, Dieses: Stirb und werde Bist du nur ein truber Gast Auf der dunklen Erde. (And unless you master this— This: die and become You are but a shadowy guest On the dark earth.) stood to the feudal world, the sacred guide of men for centuries and centuries. But alas! He, too, was a snob and loved the dignities and flatteries, if not the empty ceremonials, of a provincial German court. Fancy a great man and one of the wisest of men content to sit on that old feudal wall in court attire and dangle buckled shoes and silken hose in the eyes of the passers by beneath him. Oh, Beethoven was right in his revolt when he crammed his hat down on his head as the Gross-Herzog drove by, while Goethe stood on the roadside, hat in hand, bowing. When Beethoven's brother put on his card Gutsbesitzer (land-owner), Beethoven put on his card Hirnbesitzer (brain-owner): the brainowner cannot be proud of being a landowner. Goethe had not sufficient reverence for his own genius, and though well-off, did not make the best of his astounding gifts. He should have visited England and France early in life and spent at least two years there. If Goethe had known Blake, he might have won to the heights earlier and understood that he must give his own spirit the richest nourishment; for surely Blake's first songs would have shown him that even a Goethe had worthy competitors and thereby would have rendered the tedious Wander-jahre that were not, 260

alas! spent in travel, altogether impossible; for even at sixteen Blake had reached magic of expression. In describing eventide he writes: ... Let thy west wind sleep on The lake; speak silence with thy glimmering eyes And wash the dusk with silver ... This "natural magic," as Matthew Arnold called it, is the one quality which Goethe's poetry never showed. Yet though consciously seeking the utmost self-development, how high Goethe grew even in the thin soil of Weimar. As a lyric poet he ranks with the greatest of all tune; no one has ever written a more poignant dramatic lyric than the appeal of Gretchen to the Madonna; and Mignon's confession is of the same supreme quality. Heine says that Goethe has written the best lyrics in all literature, and Heine knew. But it was Goethe the thinker who won my heart; phrases of his, couplets even, seemed to me pure divination. There is one word about him that I envy. When Emerson was confronted by his insight into botany and into biology, he found the true word for the great German: "Surely the spirit that made the world, confided itself more to this man than to any other." In sociology, too, Goethe deserves the high praise of Carlyle, and not mainly even for the discovery of the "open secret" that too great individual liberty leads inevitably to slavery (Coleridge saw as far as that and writes of those who Wear the name of Freedom Graven on a heavier chain, but because he (Goethe) was the first to draw the line between socialism and individualism and apportion to each its true place in the modern industrial world. I make no scruple of reproducing the passage here for the second time; it has never, so far as I know, been quoted by any sociologist or even noticed; and I had arrived at the same conclusion years before reading the fragment of the play Prometheus, that contains the deepest piece of practical insight to be found anywhere. "What then is yours?" Epimetheus asks; and the answer of Prometheus comes like a flash— "The sphere that my activity can fill, no more, no less." In other words, every department of industry that the individual can control should be left to him; but all those where the individual has abdicated, all joint stock and limited liability companies, should be nationalized or municipalized; in other words, should be taken over by the community to be managed in the interest of all. Joint stock company's management has every fault of state or municipal management and none of then-many virtues and 261

advantages, as Stanley Jevons proved in a memorable essay now nearly forgotten. In this magnificent apercu Goethe was a hundred years before his time, and considering that in the first years of the nineteenth century modern industry was in the cradle, so to speak, and gave scarcely a sign of its rapid and portentous development, Goethe's insight seems to me above praise. Of course he saw, too, that the land and its inherent products, such as oil and coal, should belong to the community. It should teach us all the inestimable value of the seer and thinker that Goethe, though far removed from the main current of industrial life, should have found the true solution of the social problem a full century before any of the belauded European statesmen! What a criticism of democracy in the bare fact! I owe more to Goethe than to any other teacher: Carlyle came first and then Goethe. Carlyle, who only knew two men in the world worthy of respect, the workman and the thinker, the two iron chords out of which he struck heroic melody; and Goethe, who saw even further and was the first to recognize that the artist was the greatest of the sons of men: his destiny the most arduous, prefiguring as it does, the ceaseless mother-labour of creation, the desire which is the soul of life to produce and produce, ever reaching outward and upward to a larger and more conscious vision; and when the critics complain that Goethe was too self-centred, they forget how he organized relief for the starving weavers, or worked night after night to save the huts of Thuringen peasants from fire. And his creative work is of the best: his Mephistopheles is perhaps too generalized, just as Hamlet is too individual, to rank with Don Quixote or Falstaff; but look at his women, his Gretchen, Mignon and Philina; only Shakespeare's Cleopatra and perhaps his Sonnet-Love are of the same quality. I am annoyed whenever I hear Homer, who is not as great as our Walter Scott, placed among the first of men: to me the sacred ones are Jesus, Shakespeare and Goethe; even Cervantes and Dante, though of the same high lineage, are hardly of the same stature; for Cervantes has given us, strange to say, no new type of woman, and Dante is singer rather than creators; whereas Goethe and Shakespeare are supreme singers as well as creators; and on the Head of the Crucified One climb the crowns of the world. For my own part and speaking merely personally, I would find a place for Balzac and Heine even in that high company; and who would dare to exclude Rembrandt, Beethoven and Wagner? One small point which differentiates Goethe from Shakespeare: Shakespeare followed Jesus in insisting on repentance, whereas Goethe will 262

have no sorrow for sin: what is past, is past, he says peremptorily, and tears are a waste of time: train yourself so that you will not fall twice into the same pit; and go forward boldly. The counsel is of high courage: yet sorrow, too, is the soul's purification. But what a counsellor is this Goethe: Einen Blick in's Buch hinein Und zwei in's Leben Das muss die rechte Form Dem Geiste geben. In Gottingen I learned a good many of the peculiarities of German university life and spent more time on the Pauk-boden (duelling-ground) and with the corps-students than in socialist meetings. Thanks to my excellent German, I was admitted everywhere as a German and soon discovered the cause of the extraordinary superiority of the German students in almost every department of life. I think the discovery of value because it enabled me to predict the colossal development of German industry and German wealth twenty years before it took place. The Emperor of Germany of that time, the grandfather of the present man, must have had a rarely good head or he would never have found a Bismarck and given him almost royal power. But his wisdom was shown, I am inclined to think, just as clearly in another field. Desirous above all things of strengthening his army, he called Wilhelm von Humboldt, the brother of the famous scientist, Alexander, to counsel. What should be done with the ever increasing number of students who year by year entered the army? Von Humboldt recommended that they should form a class apart as volunteers and be subjected to only one year's training instead of three. At first the old Kaiser would not hear of it: they would be inferior, he thought, to the ordinary soldier in drill and discipline. "All my soldiers must be as good as possible," was his final word. Von Humboldt assured him that the volunteers for one year would soon constitute the pick of the recruits, and he argued and pleaded for his conviction with such fervour that at length the old Emperor yielded. Von Humboldt said that a certain proportion, twenty per cent at any rate, of the volunteers would become non-commissioned officers before their year was over; and the Emperor agreed that if this happened, the experiment must be regarded as successful. Of course the first volunteers knew what was expected of them and more than fifty per cent of them gained the coveted distinction. All through the army the smartest soldiers were the one-year volunteers. It was even said later that the smartest non-commissioned officers were for the most part volunteers, but that is not generally believed, for the German is very proud of his non-commissioned officers and with good reason; for they serve 16 years with the colours, and as they are rewarded afterwards with good positions on the railways, or in the post-office or the police, and indeed may even rise to esteem as gentlemen, they form the most remarkable class in any army. I have known a good many German non-commissioned 263

officers who had learned to speak both English and French fluently and correctly while still serving. But not only was the whole spirit and mind and discipline of the army enormously vivified by the competition of the educated volunteers; but the institution exercised in turn the most wonderful effect upon the teaching and learning in the schools; and this has never been noticed so far as I know. The middle and lower-middle classes in Germany wished their sons to become one-year volunteers, and so fathers, mothers and sisters urged their sons and brothers to study and learn so as to gain this huge step in the social hierarchy. In turn this inspired the masters and professors in the Gymnasien and Real- Schulen, and these teachers took immediate advantage of the new spirit in the scholars: the standard of the final examination in the Gymnasien—das Abiturienten-Examen, or "the going-away" examination—was put higher and higher year by year till it reached the limit set by human nature. The level of this examination now is about the level of second-honours in Oxford or Cambridge, far above the graduation standard of American universities. There are perhaps a thousand such students in Great Britain year by year, against the hundred thousand in German universities, some of whom are going on to further heights. I don't for a moment mean to suggest that all these hundred thousand German students are the intellectual equals of the thousand honour men of the English universities; they may be on the same level of knowledge, but the best thousand from Oxford and Cambridge are at least as intelligent as the best thousand from German universities. Genius has little or nothing to do with learning; but what I do assert is that the number of cultivated and fairly intelligent men in Germany is ten times larger than it is in England. Many Englishmen are proud of their ignorance: how often have I heard in later life, "I never could learn languages; French, a beastly tongue to pronounce, I know a few words of, but German is absolutely beyond me: yet I know something of horses and I'm supposed to be pretty useful at banking," and so forth. I've heard an English millionaire, ennobled for his wealth, boast that he had only two books in his house: one "the guid book" meaning the Bible that he never opened, and the other his check book. One scene which will show the enormous difference between the two peoples is bitten into my memory as with vitriol. In order to get special lessons in Old German, I spent a semester in the house of a professor in a Gymnasium; he had a daughter and two sons, the younger, Wilhelm, an excellent scholar, while Heinrich, the elder, was rather dull or slow. The father was a big, powerful man with a great voice and fiercely imperious temper: a sort of Bismarck; he was writing a book on comparative grammar. Night after night, he gave me an hour's lesson; I prepared it carefully not to excite his irritability and soon we became real friends. Duty was his religion, sweetened by love of his daughter, who was preparing to be a teacher. My bedroom was on the second floor in the back; but often, after I had retired and was lying in 264

bed reading, I heard outbursts of voice from the sitting room downstairs. I soon found out that after my lesson and an hour or two given to his daughter, the professor would go through his lessons with Heinrich. One summer's night I had been reading in my room when I was startled by a terrible row. Without thinking I ran downstairs and into the sitting-room. Mary was trying to comfort her father, who was marching up and down the room with the tears pouring from his eyes: "To think of that stupid lout being a son of mine; look at him!" Heinrich, with a very red face and tousled hair, sat with his books at the table, sullen and angry: "Ei with the optative is beyond him," cried the professor, "and he's fifteen!" "Ei with the optative was beyond me at sixteen," I laughed, hoping to allay the storm. The boy threw me a grateful look, but the father would not be appeased. "His whole future depends on his work," he shouted. "He ought to be in Secunda next year and he hasn't a chance, not a chance!" "Oh, come," I said, "you know you told me once that when Heinrich learned anything, he never forgot it, whereas I forget as easily as I learn; you can't have it both ways." "That's what I tell my father," said Mary, and the storm gradually blew over. But as the time of the examination approached, similar scenes were of almost nightly occurrence; I've seen the professor working passionately with Heinrich at one and two o'clock in the morning, the whole family on pins and needles because of one boy's slowness of apprehension. The ordinary German is not by any means a genius, but as a rule he has had to learn a good deal and knows how to learn whatever he wishes; whereas the ordinary Englishman or American is almost inconceivably ignorant, and if he happens to have succeeded in life in spite of his limitations, he is all too apt to take pride in his ignorances. I know Englishmen and women who have spent twenty years in France and know nothing of French beyond a few ordinary phrases. It must be admitted that the Englishman is far worse than the American in this respect; the American is ashamed of ignorance. In mental things the German is, so to speak, a trained athlete in comparison with an Englishman, and as soon as he comes into competition with him, he is conscious of his superiority and naturally loves to prove and display it. Time and again towards the end of the nineteenth century, English manufacturers grieving over the loss of the South American markets have shown me letters in Spanish and Portuguese written by German "drummers" that they could not get equalled by any English agents: "We are beaten by their knowledge," was the true summing up and plaint. And in the first ten years of the twentieth century the German's pride in his unhoped-for quick success in 265

commerce and industry intensified his efforts, and at the same time his contempt of his easily beaten rivals. In the spacious days of Elizabeth, Englishmen and Englishwomen too of the best class were eager to learn and prized learning perhaps above its value; the Queen herself knew four or five languages fairly well, better than any English sovereign since. One other fact that an Englishman should always keep before him: the population of Great Britain at the end of the sixteenth century was roughly five millions; at the end of the nineteenth it was some forty-five millions, or nine times as many; yet three-fourths of all the schools today in England for higher education were there in the days of Elizabeth. That fact and all it involves explains to me the efflorescence of genius in the earlier, greater age: the population has grown nine-fold, the educated class had not doubled its numbers, and certainly has not grown in appreciation or understanding of genius. I am the more inclined to preach from this text because it suggests the true meaning of the World War, which England has steadily refused to learn. When from 1900 to 1910 she saw herself overtaken by Germany, not only in the production of steel, but also of iron and coal, England ought to have learned what her contempt of learning and love of sport were costing her, and have put her house in order in the high sense of the word. For a hundred years now she has been sending some of her ablest sons to govern India. She ought to have learned from Machiavelli that every possession of the Romans not colonized by Latins was a source of weakness in time of war. England ought to withdraw from India and Egypt as soon as possible and concentrate all her forces on developing her own colonies, who will always trade with her for sentimental reasons and by compulsion of habit. The Canadian buys six times as much of English goods as the American, and the Australian spends twenty times more on English products than on German, in spite of the superior qualities of the German output. The worst of it is that the English guides and leaders do not even yet grasp the truth. But at the time the growth of Germany and its eager intellectual life only confirmed me in the belief that by nationalizing the land and socializing the chief industries such as railways, gas and water companies, which are too big for the individual to manage, one could not only lift the mass of the English people to a far higher level, but at the same time intensify their working power. It would surely be wise to double the wages of the workman when you could thereby increase the productivity of his labour. Moreover the nationalization of the railways, gas, water and mining companies would give five millions of men and women steady and secure employment and sufficient wages to ensure decent conditions of life; five millions of workmen more could be employed on the land in life-leases, and in this way Great Britain might be made self-supporting and her power and wealth enormously increased. 266

I tell all this because I resolved to make myself a social reformer and began to practice extempore speaking for at least half an hour daily. From Goettingen after three semesters I went to Berlin; it was tune; I needed the stimulus of the theatre and galleries of art and the pulsing life of a great city. But there was something provincial in Berlin; I called it a Welt-dorf, a world-village; yet I learned a good deal there: I heard Bismarck speak several times and carried away deathless memories of him as an authentic great man. In fact, I came to see that if he had not been born a Junker in a privileged position and had not become a corps-student to boot, he might have been as great a social reformer as Carlyle himself. As it was, he made Germany almost a model state. He was accused in the Reichstag one day by a socialist of having learned a good deal from Lassalle; he stalked forth at once and annihilated his critic by declaring that he would think very little of anyone who had had the privilege of knowing that extraordinary man and had not learned from him. It was Bismarck, I believe, who was responsible for the first steps towards socializing German industries; Bismarck who established the land-banks to lend money on reasonable terms to the farmers; Bismarck too who dared first to nationalize some German railways and municipalize gas and water companies; and provide for the extension by the state of the canal system. Under his beneficent despotism, too, the municipalities of Germany became instruments of progress; slums disappeared from Berlin and the housing of the poor excited the admiration of even casual foreign visitors; his bureausbureaus, providing suitable employment, were copied timidly forty years later in London. It is not too much to say that he practically eradicated poverty in Germany. The great minister himself anticipated that his attempts to lift the lowest class to a decent level would hem industrial progress and make it more difficult for the captains of industry to amass riches, but in this he was completely mistaken. He had given help and hope to the very poor, and this stimulus to the most numerous class vivified the industry of the whole nation; the productivity of bureaus increased enormously: German workmen became the most efficient in the world, and in the decade before the great war, the chief industries of steel and iron, which twenty years before were not half so productive as those of Great Britain, became three and four fold more productive, and showing larger profits, made competition practically impossible. The vivifying impulse reached even to the shipping, and while it became necessary for the British government to help finance the Cunard line, the Hamburg-America became the chief steamship line of the world and made profits that turned English shippers green with envy: immigration into Germany reached a million a year, exceeding even that into the United States. And this astounding development of industry and wealth was not due to natural advantages, as in the United States, but simply to wise, humane government and to better schooling. Every officer on a German liner spoke at 267

least French and English as well as German, whereas not one English or French officer in a hundred understood any language save his own. Looking over the unparalleled growth of the country and its prodigious productivity and wealth, it is hardly to be wondered at that the ruler ascribed the astonishing prosperity to his own wisdom and foresight. It really appeared that Germany in a single generation had sprung from the position of a second rate power to the headship of the modern world. And already in the early eighties, the future development could be foreseen. I spent one month of my holidays in Dusseldorf and Essen and was struck on all hands by the trained and cultured intelligence of the directors and foremen of the chief industries. The bureaus saving appliances alone reminded me of the best industries in the United States; but here there was a far wider and yet a specialized intelligence. Someday soon the whole story will be told properly, but even now in 1924 it's clear that the rival nations, instead of following Germany and bettering Bismarck's example, are resolved on degrading, dismembering and punishing her. It makes one almost despair of humanity. After Goettingen and Berlin, I went to Munich, drawn by the theatre and Opera-House, by Ernst Possart, the greatest Shylock I ever saw and assuredly the best-graced, all-round actor, except the elder Coquelin, who ruled the stage and was perfection perfected. And the music at Munich was as good as the acting: Heinrich Vogl and his wife were both excellent interpreters and through them, as I have told, I came to know Richard Wagner. In my fourth volume of Contemporary Portraits I've done my best to picture him in his habit as he lived; but I left out half-consciously two or three features which it seemed to me hardly right to publish just when I had learned in 1922 that Cosima Wagner was still alive. Here I may be franker. In my "portrait" I left it half in doubt as to the person who was the Isolde, or inspiring soul, of that wonderful duo of love which is the second act of Tristan. Of course there is no doubt whatever that Mathilde von Wesendonck was Wagner's Isolde; he wrote it to her in so many words: "Throughout eternity I shall owe it to you that I was able to create Tristan." In her widowhood Mathilde retired to Traunblick near Traunsee in the Bavarian Alps, and I might have seen her there in the wonderful summer of 1880 which I spent in Salzburg; but hardly anyone knew her importance in Wagner's life till after her death in 1902, when she left instructions to publish the 150 letters he had written her and the famous journal in the form of letters to her, which he wrote in Venice immediately after then-separation. He found a great word for her. "Your caresses crown my life," he wrote. "They are the joy-roses of love that flower my crown of thorns;" and Mathilde deserved even this praise: she was, as he said, always kind and wise, and above even her lover in living always on the heights. He complained one day to her that Liszt, his best friend, did not fully understand him. "There could be no ideal friendship," he added, "between men." At once she recalled him to his better self: "After all, Liszt is the one man most nearly on your level. Don't allow yourself to underrate him. I know a great phrase he once used about 268

you: 'I esteem men according to their treatment of Wagner.' What more could you want?" And her charming poetic word for their days of loving intimacy: "The heart-Sundays of my life." If ever a man was blest in his passions, it was Richard Wagner. And yet here, too, when at his best he shows the yellow streak. In 1865, six years after the parting with Mathilde, he allowed Madame von Bulow to write—it is true: "In the name of his Majesty, the King of Bavaria," to Mathilde, to ask her for a portfolio of articles and sketches which Wagner in the days of their intimacy had confided to her keeping. Naturally Mathilde wrote in reply directly to Wagner, giving him a list of everything in the portfolio, and adding finely: "I pray you to tell me what manuscripts you want and whether you wish me to send them?" In the cult of love women are nearly always nobler and finer than the best of men: Wagner's answer that the King wanted to publish the things did not excuse him for having allowed Cosima to crow over her great rival. But in publishing Wagner's letters to her and his Venice journal, Mathilde got even with Cosima; yet again Cosima was not to be outdone. She had left Von Bulow for Wagner, preferring, as someone said, "God to his Prophet"; but she, too, could reach the heights. Meeting Von Bulow years later, who said to her by way of reconciliation, "After all I forgive you," she replied finely; "it isn't a question of forgiveness, but one of understanding." And now, in face of the revelation of 1902 of Wagner's letters to Mathilde, she first wrote saying that "the Master desired these sheets to be destroyed" (der Meister wunschte beiliegende Blatter vernichtet); but when she found that they were sure to be published in spite of her opposition, she not only consented graciously to their publication in German, but added fourteen letters from Mathilde von Wesendonck, which she had found among Wagner's papers. The whole story, I think, is of curious human interest. Cosima was Wagner's equal and deserved all his praise of her as "intellectually superior even to Liszt"; but whoever studies Wagner's life will, I think, admit that it was Mathilde who wove the first joy-roses in his crown of thorns, and she it was who helped him to his supreme achievement. The Ring and Parsifal, he used to contend later, constituted his greatest message; and Cosima was the true partner of his soul who gave him happiness and golden days; but there can be no doubt that Mathilde was the Rachel of his prime and the inspiration of all his noblest, artistic masterpieces. Years later, he wrote the whole truth. "It is quite clear to me that I shall never again invent anything new. With Mathilde my life came to flower and left in me such a wealth of ideas that I have since had merely to return to the treasure-house and pick whatever I wish to develop ... She is and remains my first and only love; with her I reached the zenith: those divine years hold all the sweetness of my life." She was the inspiring genius, not only of Tristan but of the Meistersinger, and it would not be difficult to prove that the finest moment in Parsifal was due to Wagner's intercourse with her. She came at 269

the right time in his life. After all, he was well over fifty before Cosima joined him. Wagner's life rests on three persons: on Mathilde von Wesendonck, King Ludwig and on Cosima Liszt. In my "portrait" I said little of Cosima, but she was undoubtedly the chief person in his later life. His life with her in Tribschen from 1866 to 1872 was not only the happiest period of his existence but highly productive. The birth of the son, whom he boldly christened "Siegfried" (den ich kuhn 'Siegfried' nennen konnte) was to him a consecration. Instead of living with a woman like his wife, who continually urged him to compromise with all conventions because she didn't believe in him and was incapable of appraising his genius at its true worth, he had now a better head and completer understanding than even Liszt's— "Eine unerhort seltsam begabte Frau! Liszts wunderbares Ebenbild nur intellektuel uber ihm stehend" (a singularly gifted woman; Liszt over again though intellectually his superior)—to encourage and sustain him. In his delight, Wagner worked his hardest. For years he wrote from eight in the morning till five in the afternoon. In these happy fruitful years in Tribschen he completed the Meistersinger, perhaps his most characteristic work! He finished Siegfried also and composed nearly all the Gotterdammerung. Then, too, he wrote his best work, his Beethoven. In Tribschen he even began to publish the final edition of his works, and at length came the victory of 1870 to add a sort of consecration to his happiness. At long last the Germany he loved had come to honour and glory among men; now he too would live long and make the German stage worthy of the German people. He was really as affectionate as he was passionate, and his whole nature expanded in this atmosphere of well-being, encouragement and reverence. He took on the tone and manner of a great personage; he could not brook contradiction or criticism, not even from a Nietzsche, and this attitude brought with it blunders. If we mortals don't keep our eyes on the earth, we are apt to stumble. Talking one day about der Fliegende Hollander, he said he had heard the story from a sailor on his memorable voyage from Riga to London thirty-five years before. I could not help interrupting: "I thought you took the splendid redemption of the hero by love from Heine, Master?" "It was all told me by a sailor," he repeated. "Heine took the salvation of the hero by love from a Dutch theatre piece." But there is no such Dutch theatre piece. It was excusable in Wagner, you may say, to have been misled in this instance; he took the story from Heine, but he believed that Heine himself had borrowed it. But there is no such explanation possible in regard to the legend of Tannhauser. Wagner maintained always that he had taken the story from a simple Volkslegent (aus dem Volksbuch und dem schlichten Tannhauserlied); but there is no such Volksbuch, no such legend. It's all from Heine. And when one day I 270

talked with passionate admiration of Heine and placed him with Goethe far above Schiller, Wagner wouldn't have it. "Sie schwarmen—You are misled by admiration," he said. "Heine was only a simple lyric poet (ein Lyriker), but Schiller was a great dramatic genius." He owed to Heine's genius the finest things in all the German legends which he set to music, and I think in the future his denial of Heine, though little known now, will be about the greatest blot on Wagner's character, which in many respects was noble. It shows him so much smaller, less sincere even than Beethoven, and with none of that magic of loving-comprehension which our Shakespeare lavished even on his rival Chapman. That Wagner could pretend elaborately in such a case always seems to me to relegate him to a place below the very highest. Why will the men of genius who illumine our life keep such spots to mar their radiance? 271

CHAPTER V. ATHENS AND THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE I SHALL NEVER be able to describe natural beauty, though I know scenes so lovely that the mere memory of them brings tears to my eyes; and in the same way there are two cities, Athens and Rome, which I can never attempt to describe: they must be seen and studied to be realized. The impression of Athens is as simple as that of Rome is complex. The beauty of the human body is the first impression: the majesty of the man's figure and the sensuous appeal of the woman's are what Athens gives immediately; while Rome is the epitome of a dozen different civilizations and makes a dozen dissimilar appeals. The second night I was in Athens there was nearly a full moon; all over the sky were small white cloudlets on the intense blue, like silver shields reflecting the radiance. I had nothing to do so I walked across the square where the barracks of a palace stands and went up the Acropolis through the Proplyaea. As I stood before the Parthenon its sheer beauty sang itself to me like exquisite verse; I spent the night there going to and fro from the Caryatides of the Erechtheum to the frieze of the Temple, to the Wingless Victory, and back again. As dawn came and the first shafts of light struck the Parthenon I stood with clasped hands, my soul one quiver of admiration and reverence for the spirit of beauty I saw incorporated there. Athens is pure pagan and its temples, like its poems, appeal to the deepest humanity in us. These buildings do not lead the eye from pinnacle to pinnacle into the infinite, as the spires of a Gothic temple do: the temple here is the frame, so to speak, for exquisite white forms of men and women against a background of deep blue. This is the room where noble men and women meet: Pericles and Phidias, Socrates and Aspasia; here the great poet Sophocles, himself a model of beauty, walks among graceful girl-women with their apple-breasts and rounded firm hips. Here is the deification of humanity; and this religion appeals to me more profoundly than any other both in its sensuousness and in its nobility. Here are the loveliest bodies in the world to be kissed and here too the courage that smiles at Death; and I recall the words of Socrates in the Crito: "Let us go then whither the God leads," the highest in us being our God and guide! Is there anything higher? In Socrates we seem to touch the zenith of humanity, but the commandment of Jesus is sweeter still: we men all need forgiveness, all need affection, and it is more blessed even to give love than to receive it. But paganism is the first religion and this Athens is its birthplace, its altar and home. Oscar Wilde told me once that he was conscious of his genius as a schoolboy and quite certain he would be a great poet before he left Trinity, Dublin for Oxford. I had attained some originality at five and twenty when I saw Shakespeare as clearly as I saw him at forty, but I was long past thirty before I thought it possible that I might make myself a great writer. I was always

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painfully conscious that I had no writing talent, always used to repeat what Balzac said of himself: "sans genie je suis flambe" (if I haven't genius I have nothing). When I resolved to go to Greece from Munich I felt I had been studying languages long enough, and the great classic writers and heroes did not impress me much. Except Socrates, none of them came near my ideal. Sophocles, I saw, repeated himself; his Electro was a bad copy of his Antigone and he ended his Ajax with a political pamphlet in favour of Athens; he was a master of language and not of life or art, and I had lost time over him. Then there was no Roman at all except Tacitus and Catullus, the poet lover of Clodia-Lesbia, and of course Caesar, who was almost the ideal of the writer and man of action. My four years of hard study had not brought me much; the couple of months with Skobelef were richer in food for the spirit, for they strengthened my ideal of vigorous life lived in contempt of conventions. I sent on my luggage and went through the mountains on foot to Innsbruck and thence took train to Venice. It was an astonishing experience. For the first time I came to see the value of the abnormal: water-streets gave the place unique distinction; the Bridge of Sighs was more memorable than any number of Brooklyn Bridges or even Waterloo Bridges; Marlowe's great phrase came back to me often: "I am myself alone!" Singularity is distinction. I did a fortnight's hard work at Italian and could make myself understood and understand everything said to me, but when I went to the people's theatre where the Venetian dialect was spoken, I could not understand it at all and at first felt out of it; yet I had been able to understand everything in the Munchener Volkstheater! In a week or so, however, after reading I promessi Sposi and a good deal of Dante, I became able to follow the Venetian slang and in a low cabaret caught glimpses of common Venetian life. Everywhere the working classes are the most idiosyncratic and consequently the best worth knowing. But I was longing for Greece, so I took a Florio boat and started. There was a Signer Florio on board and we became friends; he brought out some wonderful Marsala and taught me that there was at least one Italian wine worth drinking. From Florio I heard a good deal of Sicily and resolved on my way back to stop in Palermo or Syracuse to study it. On the ship was a little lame Greek child; the mother was taking it back to Athens to be operated on; she seemed very despondent; I found out it was because the father had gone to the States and had not written since and the mother had not money enough for the operation. How much would it cost? Five hundred drachmae: as luck would have it, I had just a little over that sum about me. I gave it to the mother and told her to cheer up. She cried a great deal and kissed my hand. I don't know why I gave the money; it left me short; I couldn't drink much wine, had to make a bottle last two days. At the end of the voyage my bill for extras and tips took everything I had, and when we reached the Piraeus I found I had no money to pay the boatmen for taking me and my luggage to the railway station. How I cursed my foolish liberality. 273

What business had I to be generous? That evening I went into the cabin and studied the passengers; I picked out a youngish man; he looked like a Jew but his nose was straight. I went up to him, told him of my dilemma, and asked him to lend me some money. He smiled, took out his pocket-book, and showed me notes of five hundred and a thousand drachmae. "May I take this?" I asked, and touched a thousand drachmae note. "Certainly," he said, "with pleasure." "Give me your card, please," I went on, "and in a week, as soon as I can get money from London, I'll repay you; I'm going to the Hotel Grand Bretagne. It's good, isn't it?" "It's supposed to be," he rejoined, "for the rich English all go there, but I'd prefer the Hotel d'Athenes." "I'll take your tip," I said, and shook hands. That night I slept in a room looking across the Palace-Square to the Acropolis. The gentleman who lent me the money was a Mr. Constantino, the owner, if I remember rightly, of the gas-works in the Piraeus. When I wrote to my London bank for money, they sent it me on condition I could get myself identified. That condition took me to the British Embassy and made me acquainted with the First Secretary Raikes, who was kind enough to identify me without further to do. I gave a dinner to Constantine and had him meet Raikes and other friends of mine and repaid him the money with a thousand thanks. Constantine and I remained friends for many a year. In the Hotel d'Athenes a number of students used to meet once a week in the evening and discuss everything connected with the Greek language, literature, art and life. The students were mostly men of a good deal of capacity pursuing postgraduate courses. They came from the Italian school, the French school and the German school, but no English or Americans fraternized with us, though, I remember, Raikes visited us about once a month: he was not only chief attaché or something more in the English Embassy, but also the brother of the postmaster general. We called him "Long Raikes" because he was about six feet five. I used to think that Raikes would do something memorable in life, for he had a curiously fair mind, though it was not what you would call dynamic. There was the German Lolling too, who later became the head of the Archaeological Institute in Berlin, if I am not mistaken, and who wrote the famous Baedeker guide-book to Greece. Then there was an Italian, a sort of assistant curator of the Pitti Gallery, in Florence, and an astonishing Frenchman, a man of perhaps forty or forty-five, with a fine presence and magnificent head, who spoke almost every European language excellently and with a perfect accent—the only Frenchman I ever saw, indeed, the only foreigner who spoke English so that you could not tell he was not an Englishman. I have forgotten his name, but we called him the Baron. 274

I remember one evening Raikes brought in Mr. Bryce, afterwards Lord Bryce, who was then about to make his first tour through Greece. A couple of Greek professors from the university used to come pretty regularly; one of them I christened Plato and the nickname stuck. I have forgotten his real name; he had charming manners and was extraordinarily intelligent and well-read in all sorts of out-of-the-way subjects. For instance, he knew South Africa and especially Cape Colony almost as well as I did, though he had never set foot in the country. I came into the room rather late one evening and was told by the chairman, Lolling, that they had had an interesting discussion on various European languages and had settled some points to their entire satisfaction. Everyone agreed, he said, that Italian was the most musical language, Spanish having been ruled out because of its harsh gutturals. German, it was decided, was the best instrument for abstract thought, and indeed the largest vehicle in a general way. French was considered to be the best language for diplomacy, being very precise and simple and having an extensive popularity from one end of Christendom to the other. Such were some of the general conclusions. "All very interesting," I said, "but where on earth do you put English?" "English," the German replied, "is very simple and logical, of course, but almost without grammatical construction or any rules of pronunciation. Therefore its claims have not been put forward very strongly, but we shall be glad to hear you on this subject, if you wish to say anything." Of course I took the bull by the horns at once and began by saying it would be easy to prove that English was the most musical of all the languages mentioned, at which there was a shout of amused laughter. Signor Manzoni, the Italian, wanted to know whether I was serious; he thought it would be easy to demonstrate that English was the most cacophonous of European tongues. "Let me first make my point," I interjected. "Why do you say Italian is the most musical of all languages?" "Because of our beautiful open vowel sounds," he replied, "and we have no harsh gutturals or sibilants." "But English has got your five pure vowel sounds," I replied, "and many more; English has six or seven different sounds for o and four or five different sounds for a; in fact, we have about twenty vowel sounds to your five. Is it really your contention that the fewer the instruments in an orchestra, the more divine is the music?" "I see your point," said Manzoni. "I didn't think of it before. It is a good point, but you must admit that your English s's are even a greater disqualification than the German gutturals." 275

"We avoid the sibilants," I replied, "as much as we can, though I do admit that the s is a danger in English, just as the guttural is in German; but the point is, you must admit, that we have a larger orchestra of vowel sounds than any other European language, and you must also admit that we have had the greatest poets in the world to use them. You can hardly then question the result as to the best music, for I know you would admit at once that the most complex music is pretty sure to be the finest." "I seize your argument," he replied thoughtfully. "It would have been truer to say that you English have the finest orchestra and we Italians the finest string quintet in the world." "Let us leave it at that," I exclaimed, laughing. "But if you care for my opinion, I can assure you that there are cadences in English verse so subtle and so musical that I put it above all other verse in the world, above even the best of Goethe. Think of the over-praised Greek, of Euripides, for example, who puts the caesura invariably in the second foot: his music is as mechanical as a treadmill. And no one tells you of that; all praise him, scholars and poets alike: And Euripides, the human, With his droppings of warm tears And his touches of things common Till they rise to touch the spheres. "Besides, this matter is being decided in another way. A century ago only about fifteen millions of people spoke English; now nearly two hundred millions of the most rapidly increasing population in the world speak English; in another century there will be four or five hundred millions speaking it; the only competitor we have really is Russian, and Russian will be in a secondary place as soon as Australia and the great plateau of Central Africa are filled with English-speaking people. The verdict of humanity will be in favour of English as the language of the most progressive and most numerous people in the world. And I am inclined to believe that this judgment by results is pretty good judgment." (A year or so later I remember Turgenev saying once that he infinitely preferred Russian to German or to French, though he spoke both languages excellently. He insisted that Russian was far richer, a far finer instrument than German, and, "it is already much more widely spread," was his final argument.) "The survival," said the Baron, "may be of the fittest, but the fittest is not always the best or highest. In spite of your arguments, and they are excellent, I regard the conclusions come to before you renewed the discussion as nearer the truth in many essentials. I still think Italian more musical than English: you cannot believe that your English "critcher" is as musical as creatura (he pronounced it in four syllables); and French is a better language for diplomacy than English, with finer shades of courtesy, more exact shades, I mean, of amiable converse. We French have fifty different ways of ending 276

our letters; contrast them with 'Yours sincerely,' 'Yours truly,' 'Yours faithfully.' It seems to me that in all matters of politeness we have the full orchestra and you have nothing but the banjo, the cymbals and the drum!" "The question," I replied, "is surely susceptible of proof. Give me any of the expressions with which you close your letters and I will undertake to render them into English without difficulty, giving the very shade of meaning you wish to have conveyed." "Pardon," he retorted, "but you would not even be able to translate amities! The shade between love and friendship would slip through the large English mesh and be lost." "We can say, 'your loving friend,'" I said, "or, 'your friend and lover,' or 'your affectionate friend,' the matter is perfectly simple." The discussion became general for a few minutes. They all gave me phrases they thought would be difficult to translate into English, but they were all easily convertible, and I resumed the discussion by saying: "Let me give one English instance and see how you would translate it. I shall not excogitate a phrase out of my inner consciousness; I will simply give a well-known passage of Ruskin's in which he praises Venetian painters and ask you to translate it. 'Venice taught these men,' he said, 'to love another style of beauty; broadchested and level-browed like her horizons; thighed and shouldered like her billows; footed like her stealing foam; bathed in clouds of golden hair like her sunset.' "Now, Baron, don't be in a hurry to translate into French 'thighed and shouldered like her billows' or 'footed like her stealing foam.' "I think you will find it hard to translate that sentence into even a page of any modern language, and in translating it I am sure you will lose the poetry of it, the beauty of it, or at least some part of the poetry and beauty; whereas you admit that I have been able to translate your French and German examples into their equivalent English pretty easily." "Tell us," said Lolling, "what you really thing about the English language." Flattered by the appeal, I did my best to sum up like a judge. "It was Max Muller," I said, "or one of the German philologists—it may have been Karl Werner—who put me on the track by saying that English had more names of things, was richer in substantives than any other language, the observant habit of the people, the sense of the facts of life being very strong in Englishmen. 277

"English has shed almost all grammatical forms, it seems to me, in the struggle for existence. It is more simple, more logical than any other modern language. It can be used more easily by uneducated people than any other tongue, more easily even than French, and that quality gives it its fitness for spreading over the world. Its real weakness in sound is, as the Baron knows, the habit of accenting the first syllable, which tends to shorten all words, and the sibilant, which should be avoided as far as possible. The worst weakness of English in structure was, strange to say, in a people so given to action, its paucity of verbs. "But here the poets have come to the rescue and have turned the present participles into verbs, as in the passage I quoted from Ruskin; and they have also managed to turn nouns into verbs: 'She cupped her face with her hand'; 'he bottled up his wrath'; 'he legged it away.' These are just instances to show how the richness of English nouns is converted into the astonishing, unexpected richness of English in painting verbs. All modern European languages have painting adjectives and epithets at hand with all the colours of the palette; but we are alone in being able to use present participles that are half-adjectives and half-verbs, and to convert even nouns into verbs, and so lend both pictorial beauty and speed to the tongue almost at will. "Though I have great liking for classic Greek, the Greek of Plato and Sophocles, I still think the language of Shakespeare and Keats the most beautiful in the world. That is why I resent the way it is prostituted and degraded by the users. The aristocracy of England has degraded the tongue into a few shibboleths of snobbery. It's 'awfully' this and 'awfully' that; she is a 'high-stepper', and 'high-stepper' becomes a portmanteau adjective of the next generation of snobs who would fence themselves away from the middle classes, not by excellence of speech, but by idiotic shibboleths. The English aristocrat degrades his language as much as the corner-boy whose one adjective is 'bloody.' "Oh! That English aristocracy: how it dwarfs the ideal! It knows a good deal about outward things, about the body and men's dress and social observances and trivial courtesies; but alas, it knows very little about the mind, and nothing about the soul—nothing. What aristocrat in England ever thought of training his faculties of thought, as lots of schoolboys train their muscles, to almost perfect vigour and beauty, knowing instinctively that no muscle must be overdeveloped, but all should be kept in perfect harmony. Yet even here the Hindu Yogi knows more about the muscles of the heart and stomach and intestines, the most important parts of the body. "No Englishman thinks it disgraceful today to be completely ignorant of German, French, Italian, and Russian and the special achievements of these peoples in thought and art and literature—" "True, true," exclaimed the Baron, interrupting me, "and it needs saying; but what do you mean by the 'soul' exactly, and how can one train that? 278

"I know very little about it myself, I must confess," I replied, "but I got just a whiff of it as I came through India, and I have always promised myself to go back and spend six months or a year in assimilating the wisdom of the East. Gautama Buddha always impresses me as one of the noblest of men, and where a single tree grows to the sky, the soil and climate, too, must be worth studying. But we've gone far afield and gotten far away from our theme." "Let me just say one word," the Baron broke in. "I think France in almost every way finer than England, nearer the ideal. Every Frenchman of any intelligence loves the things of the mind—art and literature—and tries to speak French as purely and as well as possible, whereas in England there is no class that seems to care for the finest heritage of the race in the same way. And what airs the English aristocrat gives himself. He's hardly human. Have you noticed that the only people who don't come to our meetings are the English students? And yet they need cosmopolitan education more than any other race." Athens holds many of the deathless memories of my life. I was looking at the figures on the parapet of the Temple to the Wingless Victory one day when I suddenly noticed that the dress was drawn tight about the breast just to outline the exquisite beauty of the curve—sheer sensuality in the artist. Thirty years later I asked Rodin what he thought, and he declared that the Greek gods of the Parthenon are as undisguisedly sensual as any figures in plastic art. I met yet another person in this life at the Hotel d'Athenes who deserves perhaps to be remembered. One day a tall good-looking Englishman was introduced to me by the manager of the hotel. "This is Major Geary, Mr. Harris. I've told the Major," he went on, "that you know more about Athens, and indeed about all Greece, than any one of my acquaintances, and he wishes to ask you some questions." "I'll be glad to answer so far as I can," I said, for Major Geary was goodlooking and evidently of good class, tall and of course well-set-up, tho' he told me he had left the Royal Artillery some years before and was now in Armstrong's. "The fact is," he began, "I've been sent out to sell some of our guns, and I want to ask someone who knows how I should set to work. A man at our Embassy advised me to go the King first." "That would do you no good," I replied. "Do you know Tricoupis, the Prime Minister? You can surely get a letter to him and that will be the best door to his confidence." Geary thanked me and followed my advice; a little later we lunched together and I found him an admirable host with, strange to say, a rare knowledge of English poetry. Shakespeare he knew very little about, but a 279

great part of English lyric poetry was at his finger's ends, and he showed astonishing taste and knowledge. Geary's delight in poetry drew us together, and one morning he asked me to go with him to meet Tricoupis and some of the ministers and support the Armstrong proposition. Briefly, it was that the English firm would give a much larger and longer credit than either Krupp or Creusot would give. I went with him the more willingly, for I was eager to meet Tricoupis, who had written in a masterly way the History of the Revolution. But at the meeting Tricoupis was all business and I could get no private or confidential speech with him. Towards the end of the sitting, Geary pulled out a magnificent gold watch which had been given to him by his comrades when he left the Royal Artillery; it was engraved, if I remember rightly, with the arms of the artillery in jewels. As Tricoupis would not force a decision on his colleagues, he was the more courteous to Geary and expressed his admiration of the watch. Geary at once took it off the chain and showed it to him; the next man leaned forward to look, and the watch passed down the table, while Tricoupis assured Major Geary that his proposal would be seriously considered and answered within a week or so. As he rose, Geary exclaimed, smiling, "And my watch!" But the watch was not forthcoming and no one seemed to know what had become of it. Tricoupis frowned, evidently disgusted. "Gentlemen," he said, at length, "if Major Geary's watch is not forthcoming, I'll get the police in and have us all searched." "No, no!" Geary broke in, knowing that the commission he hoped to get from selling cannons was much more important than the watch. "I'd rather lose the watch; please, no police among gentlemen and in your house; I couldn't hear of it!" "It's very kind of you," responded Tricoupis. "I'm sure the watch was pocketed by mistake and now the man who took it is ashamed to give it up publicly; suppose we put out the lights, and as my colleagues file out the man who has the watch can slip it on that little table by the door, where the buhl clock now stands, and no one will be any the wiser." "First rate," cried Geary. "It takes genius," and he bowed to the Premier, "to hit on so admirable a solution." The lights were all turned out and the ministers filed out of the room in almost complete silence. We heard them in the hall and then the house-door closed. "Now," said Tricoupis, "we'll find your watch, Major," and he turned up the gas; but there was no watch on the table and—the buhl clock too had disappeared. 280

A week later, I believe, the watch was found through Tricoupis' efforts and returned to the Major, but I don't think Geary brought off Armstrong's deal. I tell the story because it is eminently characteristic of the Greece I knew and loved, loved in spite of its poverty, which was the cause of the somewhat low business morality of an exceedingly intelligent people. When I knew Athens thoroughly and could speak modern Greek fluently I went with some friends, a German student and an Italian, on foot through Greece. We went to Thebes and Delphi and climbed Parnassus, and finally I went on by myself to Janina; and then returning visited Corinth, Sparta and Mycenae, where I was lucky enough to be among the first to see the astounding head of the Hermes of Praxiteles, surely the most beautiful face in plastic art, for no Venus, whether of Melos or Cnidos, possesses his superb intellectual appeal. It is curious that though love is the woman's province and love is the deepest emotion in life, yet the profoundest expressions, even of love, are not hers. And yet I cannot believe that she is man's inferior, and surely she is sufficiently articulate! It's a mystery for the future to solve, or some wiser man than I am. 281

CHAPTER VI. LOVE IN ATHENS; AND "THE SACRED BAND" I HAD BEEN IN the Hotel d'Athenes a week or so when I noticed a pretty girl on the stairs: she charmed by eyes. A chambermaid told me she was Mme. M— and had the next bedroom to mine. Then I discovered that her mother, a Mme. D—, had the big sitting-room on the first floor. I don't know how I made the mother's acquaintance, but she was kindly and easy of approach, and I found she had a son, Jacques D—, in the Corps des Pages, whom I came to know intimately in Paris some years later, as I shall relate in due course. The daughter and I soon became friends; she was a very pretty girl in the early twenties. The D—s were of pure Greek stock, but they came from Marseilles and spoke French as well as modern Greek. The girl had been married to a Scot a couple of years before I met her; he was now in Britain somewhere, she said. She would hardly speak of her marriage; it was the mother who told me it had been a tragic failure. In the freedom from fixed hours of study, my long habit of virtue weighed on me and Mme. M— was extraordinarily good looking: slight and rather tall with a Greek face of the best type, crowned with a mass of black hair. I have never seen larger or more beautiful dark eyes, and her slight figure had a lissom grace that was intensely provocative. Her name was Eirene, or "Peace," and she soon allowed me to use it. In three days I told her I loved her, and indeed I was taken as by storm. We went out together for long walks: one day we visited the Acropolis and she was delighted to learn from me all about the "Altar of the Gods." Another day we went down into the Agora, or marketplace, and she taught me something of modern Greek life and customs. One day an old woman greeted us as lovers, and when Mme. M— shook her head and said "ouk estiv" (it is not so), she shook her ringer and said, "He's afire and you'll catch fire, too." At first Mme. M— would not yield to me at all, but after a month or so of assiduity and companionship, I was able to steal a kiss or an embrace and came slowly day by day, little by little, nearer to the goal. An accident helped me one day: shall I ever forget it? We had been all through the town together and only returned as the evening was drawing in. When we came to the first floor I opened the door of their sitting-room very quietly. As luck would have it, the screen before the door had been pushed aside and there on the sofa at the far side of the room I saw her mother in the arms of a Greek officer. I drew the door to slowly, so that the girl coming behind might see, and then closed it noiselessly. As we turned off towards our bedrooms on the left, I saw that her face was glowing. At her door I stopped her. "My kiss," I said, and as in a dream she kissed me: l'heure du berger had struck. "Won't you come to me tonight?" I whispered. "That door leads into my room." She looked at me with that inscrutable woman's glance, and for the first time her eyes gave themselves. That night I went to bed early and moved

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away the sofa, which on my side barred her door. I tried the lock but found it closed on her side, worse luck! As I lay in bed that night about eleven o'clock, I heard and saw the handle of the door move. At once I blew out the light, but the blinds were not drawn and the room was alight with moonshine. "May I come in?" she asked. "May you?" I was out of bed in a jiffy and had taken her adorable soft round form in my arms. "You darling sweet," I cried, and lifted her into my bed. She had dropped her dressing-gown, had only a nightie on, and in one moment my hands were all over her lovely body. The next moment I was with her in bed and on her, but she moved aside and away from me. "No, let's talk," she said. I began kissing her, but acquiesced, "Let's talk." To my amazement, she began: "Have you read Zola's latest book, Nana?" "Yes," I replied. "Well," she said, "you know what the girl did to Nana?" "Yes," I replied, with sinking heart. "Well," she went on, "why not do that to me? I'm desperately afraid of getting a child; you would be too in my place; why not love each other without fear?" A moment's thought told me that all roads lead to Rome and so I assented and soon I slipped down between her legs. "Tell me please how to give you most pleasure," I said, and gently I opened the lips of her sex and put my lips on it and my tongue against her clitoris. There was nothing repulsive in it; it was another and more sensitive mouth. Hardly had I kissed it twice when she slid lower down in the bed with a sigh, whispering, "That's it; that's heavenly!" Thus encouraged I naturally continued: soon her little lump swelled out so that I could take it in my lips and each time I sucked it, her body moved convulsively, and soon she opened her legs further and drew them up to let me in to the uttermost. Now I varied the movement by tonguing the rest of her sex and thrusting my tongue into her as far as possible; her movements quickened and her breathing grew more and more spasmodic, and when I went back to the clitoris again and took it in my lips and sucked it while pushing my forefinger back and forth into her sex, her movements became wilder and she began suddenly to cry in French, "Oh, c'est fou! Oh, c'est fou! Oh! Oh!" And suddenly she lifted me up, took my head in both her hands, and crushed my mouth with hers, as if she wanted to hurt me. The next moment my head was between her legs again and the game went on. Little by little I felt that my finger rubbing the top of her sex while I tongued her clitoris gave her the most pleasure, and after another ten minutes of this delightful practice she cried: "Frank, Frank, stop! Kiss me! Stop and kiss me, I can't stand any more, I am rigid with passion and want to bite or pinch you." 283

Naturally I did as I was told and her body melted itself against mine while our lips met. "You dear," she said, "I love you so, and oh how wonderfully you kiss." "You've taught me," I said. "I'm your pupil." While we were together my sex was against hers and seeking an entry; each time it pushed in, she drew away; at length she said: "I'd love to give myself to you, dear, but I'm frightened." "You need not be," I assured her. "If you let me enter, I'll withdraw before my seed comes and there'll be no danger." But do what I would, say what I would, that first night she would not yield to me in the usual way. I knew enough about women to know that the more I restrained myself and left her to take the initiative, the greater would be my reward. A few days later I took her up Mount Lycabettus and showed her "all the kingdoms of the spirit," as I used to call Athens and the surroundings. She wanted to know about ancient Greek literature. "Was it better than modern French literature?" "Yes and no; it was altogether different." She confessed she could not understand Homer, but when I recited choruses from the Oedipus Rex, she understood them; and the great oath in Demosthenes' speech, "Not by those who first faced death at Marathon" — and the noble summing up brought tears to her eyes—"Now by your judgment you will either drive our accusers out over land and over sea, houseless and homeless, or you will give to us a sure release from all danger in the peace of the eternal silence." On hearing this, she kissed me of her own accord. As we were walking that afternoon down the long slope of Lycabettus, "You don't want me any more?" she said, suddenly. "Men are such selfish creatures; if you don't do all they want at once, they draw away." "You don't believe a word of that," I interrupted. "When have I drawn away? I'm awaiting your good pleasure. I didn't want to bother you perpetually, that's all. If you could see me watching the handle of your door every night-" "Some night soon it will turn," she said, and slipped her hand through my arm. "I don't like to decide important things when I am all a quiver with feeling, but I've thought over all you said and I want to believe you, to trust you— see?" And her eyes were one promise. Luckily, when the handle of her door did turn, I was on the watch and took her in my arms before she had crossed the threshold, and the love-game she had taught me went on for a long time. At length wearied and all dissolved in 284

sensation, she lay in my arms and my sex throbbing hot was against hers, seeking, seeking its sheath. Luckily I did not force matters but let the contact plead for me. At length she whispered, "I hate to deny you; will you do what you promised?" "Surely," I said. "And there's no danger?" "None," I replied. "I give you my word of honour," and the next moment she relaxed in my arms and let me have my will. Slowly I penetrated, bit by bit, and she leaned to me with greedy mouth, kissing me. It was divine, but oh, so brief: a few thrusts and I was compelled to withdraw to keep my word. "Oh, it was heavenly," she sighed as I took up my spurting semen on my handkerchief, "but I like your mouth best: why is that? Your tongue excites me terribly: why?" she asked, and then, "Let's talk!" But I said, "No dear! let's begin. Now there's no risk; I can go with you as much as we like without danger. I'll explain it to you afterwards, but take my word and let's enjoy ourselves." The next moment I was in her again and the great game went on with renewed vigour. Again and again she came to an ecstasy and at length as I mounted high up so as to excite her more, she suddenly cried out: "Oh, oh, que c'est fou, fou, fou," and she bit my shoulder and then burst into tears. Naturally I took her in my arms and began to kiss her; our first great loveduet was over. From that night on she had no secrets from me, no reticences, and bit by bit she taught me all she felt in the delirium of love: she told me she could not tell which gave her most pleasure, but I soon learned that she preferred me to begin by kissing her sex for ten or fifteen minutes and then to complete the orgasm with my sex used rather violently. All the English schoolboy stories of some fancied resemblance between the mouth and the sex of the woman, and the nose and sex of the man, I found invariably false. Eirene had rather a large mouth and a very small pretty sex, whereas the girl with the largest sex and thickest lips I ever met had a small thin mouth. Similarly with the man. I'm sure there's no relation whatever between the sex and the feature of the face. An exquisite mistress, Eirene, with a girl's body, small, round breasts, and a mouth I never grew tired of. Often afterwards, instead of walks, we adjourned to my room and spent the afternoon in love's games. Sometimes her mother came to her door and she would laugh and hug me; once or twice her brother came to mine, but we lay in each other's arms and let the foolish outside world knock. But we always practiced the game she had been the first to teach me; for some reason or other I learned more about women through it 285

and the peculiar ebb and flow of their sensuality than the natural love-play had taught me; it gives the key, so to speak, to a woman's heart and senses, and to the man this is the chief reward, as wise old Montaigne knew, who wrote of "standing at rack and manger before the meal." I was always trying to win confessions from my girl friends about then-first experiences in sensuality, but save in the case of some few Frenchwomen, actresses for the most part, I was not very successful. What the reason is, others must explain, but I found girls strangely reticent on the subject. Time and again when in bed with Eirene I tried to get her to tell me, and at long last she confessed to one adventure. When she was about twelve she had a French governess in Marseilles, and one day this lady came into the bathroom, telling her she had been a long time bathing, and offering to help her dry herself. "I noticed," said Eirene, "that she looked at me intently and it pleased me. When I got out she wrapped the robe about me and then sat down and took me on her knees and began to dry me. As she touched me often there I opened my legs and she touched me very caressingly, and then of a sudden she kissed me passionately on the mouth and left me. I liked her very much. She was a dear, really clever and kind." "Did she ever dry you again?" I asked. Eirene laughed. "You want to know too much, sir," was all she would say. When I returned to Athens at the end of the summer, I took rooms in the people's quarter and lived very cheaply. Soon Eirene came to visit me again and we went often to the Greek theatre and I read Theocritus with her on many afternoons; but she gave me nothing new and in the spring I decided to return by way of Constantinople and the Black Sea to Vienna, for I felt that my Lehrjahre—"prentice-years"—were drawing to an end; and Paris beckoned, and London. One of the last evenings we were together Eirene wanted to know what I liked best in her. "You've a myriad good qualities," I began. "You are good-tempered and reasonable always, to say nothing of your lovely eyes and lithe slight figure. But why do you ask?" "My husband used to say I was bony," she replied. "He made me dreadfully unhappy, tho' I tried my best to please him. I didn't feel much with him at first and that word 'bony' hurt terribly." "Don't you know," I said, "one of our first meetings, when you got out of bed to go to your room, I lifted up your nightie and saw the outline of your curving thighs and hips; it has always seemed to me one of the loveliest contours I've 286

ever seen. If I had been a sculptor I'd have modelled it long ago—'bony,' indeed; the man didn't deserve you: put him out of your head." "I have," she said, "for we women have only room for one, and you've put yourself in my heart. I'm glad you don't think me bony, but fancy you caring for a curve of flesh so much. Men are funny things. No woman would so overprize a mere outline—your praise and his blame both show the same spirit." "Yet desire is born of admiration," I corrected. "My desire is born of yours," she replied. "But a woman's love is better and different: it is of the heart and soul." "But the body gives the key," I said, "and makes intimacy divine!" I found several unlocked for and unimaginable benefits in this mouthworship. First of all, I could give pleasure to any extent without exhausting or even tiring myself. It thus enabled me to atone completely and make up for my steadily decreasing virility. Secondly, I discovered that by teaching me the most sensitive parts of the woman, I was able even in the ordinary way to give my mistresses more and keener pleasure than ever before. I had all the joy of coming into a new kingdom of delight with increased vigour. Moreover, as I have said, it taught me to know every woman more intimately than I had known any up to that time, and I soon found that they liked me better than even in the first flush of inexhaustible youth. Later I learned other devices but none so important as this first discovery which showed me once for all how superior art is to nature. The Sacred Band For I doubt not through the ages one increasing purpose runs And the thoughts of men are widened by the process of the suns. After studying in Athens for some months, I heard of a club where university professors and some students met and talked classic Greek. A mistake or even an awkwardness of expression was anathema, and out of this reverence for the language of Plato and Sophocles there grew a desire to make the modern tongue resemble the old one as nearly as possible. It was impossible to bring back into common use the elaborate syntax; the subtle, shading particles too were lost forever; but it was sought to use words in their old meaning so exactly that even today Xenophon could read the daily paper in Athens and understand it without difficulty. This assimilation was only possible because the spoken language of the Greeks, e koine dialektos, had for many centuries existed side by side with the literary tongue. The spoken dialect had been preserved in the New 287

Testament and in the Church services, and so it came easy for learned and enthusiastic Grecians to keep the language of the common people as like that of Plato as possible; and the race is so extraordinarily intelligent that even the peasant, who has always called a horse alogos (the brainless one), knows that ippos is a finer word for the same animal. And though the common pronunciation is not exactly that of classic times, still it is a great deal nearer the antique pronunciation than any English or even Erasmic imitation. The modern Greek does use his accents correctly, and anyone who has learned to do that by ear can appreciate the cadence of classic Greek poetry and prose far more perfectly than any scholar who only reads for the rhythm of long and short syllables. I think it was Raikes told a story that illustrated a side of this Greek ambition for me. Professor Blackie, a well-known Scotch historian and Philhellene, came out to Athens on a visit and spoke in the Piraeus. Raikes went to hear him with a distinguished university professor who was one of the leaders of the Hellenic movement. After listening to Blackie for a while, the Greek professor turned to Raikes and said, "I had no idea that English sounded so well." "But he's speaking modern Greek," said Raikes. "Good God!" cried the professor, "I'd never have guessed that; I've not understood a single word of it." One experience of this time I must relate shortly, for it had an enormous, a disproportionate influence on my whole outlook and way of reading the past. Everyone knows that Plutarch was born at Chaeroneia, and in my wanderings on foot through Attica I stayed for some days in a peasant's house on the plain. When Philip of Macedon and Alexander, his son, afterwards called the Great, invaded Attica, they came almost as barbarians and the city of Thebes had to bear the first shock. Plutarch tells how three hundred Theban youths of the best families came together and took a solemn oath that they would put a stop to Philip's astonishing career of conquest or die in the attempt. The forces met at Chaeroneia, and Philip's new order, the famous phalanx, carried all before it. In vain the three hundred youths dashed themselves against it; time and again they were beaten back and the phalanx drove on. In the bed of a river, the "Sacred Band," as they were called, o ieros lochos, made their supreme effort and perished to the last man; and after the battle, we are told, the noble three hundred were buried in one grave by their parents in Thebes. The course of the river, Plutarch says, was turned aside so that they might all be interred on the very spot where their final assault had failed. Everyone knows that in our day there was a gigantic marble lion at Chaeroneia. The Turks in their time had heard that there was money in it, so they blew it up to get the treasure, but they found nothing, and no one could 288

understand what the lion of Chaeroneia was doing in the centre of a deserted plain, far away from any village. At a big meeting of the Classic Greek Society, I declared my belief that the lion of Chaeroneia was an excellent specimen of antique work carved in classic times. I believed it had been erected over the barrow of the "Sacred Band," and if excavations were carried out, I felt sure that the grave of the heroes would be discovered. Greek patriotism took fire at the suggestion; a banker and friend offered to defray the expenses and we went up to Chaeroneia to begin the work. There was no river at Chaeroneia, but a shallow brook, the Thermodon, was a couple of hundred yards away from the fragments of the lion. On studying the ground closely, I was insistent that a long grass-grown depression in the ground near the lion should be laid open first, arguing always that the lion would prove to have been erected on the grave itself; and soon the barrow was discovered. Four stone walls a foot or so broad and six feet or so in height had been built in the form of an elongated square, resting on the shingle of an old river bed, and therein like sardines we found the bodies, or rather, the skeletons of the "Sacred Band." The first thing we noticed was the terrible wounds sustained in the conflict; here, for example, was a skeleton with three ribs smashed on one side while the head of the spear that killed him was jammed between a rib and the backbone; another had his backbone broken by a vigorous spearthrust and one side of his head beaten in as well. The next thing that struck us was that the teeth in all the skeletons were excellently preserved and in almost perfect order. Clearly our inferiority in this respect must be due to our modern, cooked food. We counted two hundred and ninety-seven skeletons, and in one corner there was a little pile of ashes, evidently of the three who had survived longest and were finally cremated. At one side of the oblong enclosure there was a solid piece of masonry some ten feet square, plainly the pedestal of the lion which was placed there couchant, looking away over the bodies of the dead towards Thebes in eternal remembrance of the heroism of the youths who had given their lives in defence of their fatherland. A "Sacred Band," indeed! So, the poetic legend that this modern historian and that could not even take seriously was found to be strictly and exactly true, a transcript of the facts. It all helped to make the work of the writer precious to me and vivified the past for me in such a way that I began to read other books, and notably the New Testament, in a different spirit. German scholars had taught me that Jesus was a mythical figure: his teaching a mish-mash of various traditions and religions and myths. He was not an historical personage in any way, they declared; the three synoptic Gospels were all compiled from 50 to 80 years after the events, and John was certainly later still. 289

The story of the "Sacred Band" led me to use my brain on the person of Jesus as I had already used it on Shakespeare; and soon I found indubitable proof that Jesus was not only an historical personage, but could be studied in his words and works and realized in his habit as he lived. Tacitus and Josephus both were witnesses to his existence, and if the passage in Josephus has been added to, that of Tacitus is untouched and absolutely convincing: "A certain fellow called Jesus" (Quidam Jesu) did certainly live and teach in Jerusalem and was there crucified as the "King of the Jews" and "Son of God!" Not God or King to me in any superhuman sense, but flesh and bone, a man among men, though a sacred guide and teacher of the highest. As I read, the scales fell from my eyes, and I saw that this Jesus was blood-brother to Shakespeare: both weak in body: Jesus could not carry His Cross and was supposed to have died in the first few hours of agony; both too, called "gentle"; both of incomparable speed and depth of thought and sweet loving-kindness of character. Read the Arthur of King John speaking to his executioner, Are you sick, Hubert? You look pale today: In sooth, I would you were a little sick, That I might sit all night and watch with you. I warrant I love you more than you do me, and then recall the sacred words, "Suffer little children to come unto me and forbid them not; for of such is the kingdom of heaven!" Surely these two men are of the same divine spirit. In courage Jesus was the greater and accordingly came to a more dreadful end and to a loftier fame; but Shakespeare insists on the need of repentance and absolute forgiveness just as Jesus did: "Pardon's the word for all." My life was enriched by finding another sacred guide, but alas! I yielded to the new influence very reluctantly, and it was many years before the knowledge of the Christ began even to modify my character. But this gradual interpenetration is the dominant impulse in the next twenty years of my life and bit by bit led me to attempt that synthesis of paganism and the spirit of Jesus, which, it seems to me, must constitute the essential elements at least of "the religion of the future!" For what is the spirit of Jesus but the certainty that God is just goodness and must be loved by all of us mortals! The first duty of man or woman is purely pagan: each of us should develop all his faculties of body and mind and soul as harmoniously as possible. He should, too, secure the highest enjoyment possible from his gifts; but when he has thus, so to speak, reached the zenith of his accomplishment, he should study how to give the utmost possible help to his fellow-men and make "the new commandment" of Jesus the chief purpose of his life. 290

Alas! To "love one another" is a most difficult rule, unless we can remember that it is just to love what is good and to forgive the veiling faults. The best way to this all-comprehending love, I feel, is by dint of pity— "good pity," Shakespeare calls it, and "sacred pity," "holy pity" even, for it leads, he knew, to pardon and forgiveness. And this pity must needs result in redressing the worst injustices of life, and, above all, in levelling up the awful inequality that gives one child everything in unimaginable superfluity and denies to another just as gifted and healthy even decent conditions of living. The handicap of the rich and great is just as poisonously bad as the handicap of the poor that stunts the frame and impoverishes the blood. It is pity and loving sympathy that may amend in time the worst diseases of society. One would think that the knowledge of natural laws and the control of natural resources, while increasing enormously the productivity of bureaus, would of necessity improve the position of the labourer. So far that has not been the case: the greater power given us by the thinker and man of science has merely increased the inequality between the possessors and the hordes of the dispossessed. If that process continues, the race is doomed; but already those of us who have reached a certain plane of thought, even though they have found riches easy or hard to acquire, are on the side of the poor. John Stuart Mill thought the remedy lay in heavy succession duties and it may be that this is the most practical way of attack; indeed, it looks as if it were, though I prefer the nationalization of the land and public utilities, such as railways and water and gas companies. Yet the succession duties in England since the World War have remained without serious objection at something like thirty-three per cent of the great inheritances. One thing is certain, in one way or other the worst inequalities must be ended. The overgreat individual liberty in England has led to the practical enslavement and degradation of the working classes. In 1837 only ten per cent of recruits were below five feet-six in height; in 1915 seventy per cent were below that height and even fifty per cent could not pass the puny physical standard required. Having learned in life both what riches can give and what poverty gives, I have always stood in favour of the poor. The levelling up process is the most important task of our politicians, and they should be classed according to the help they give to this reform of reforms. But after the World War and the misery which the hateful so-called peace of Versailles has brought upon Europe, other fears for the future of humanity must invade the soul. Pity, that angel of the world, must be cultivated and taught, or life for us short-sighted, selfish animals will become impossible. Will not some young noble-minded man start a new "Sacred Band" that will struggle for humanity and the rights of man as valiantly as those Theban youths struggled for the liberty and safety of Greece? Or must we come to the despair sung by Sophocles in his Oedipus of Colonos: 291

Who breathes must suffer and who thinks must mourn And he alone is blest who n'er was born. But, everyone is asking, does this rebirth of paganism, which is mainly due to the progress of science, hold any hope, any consolation, in presence of the awful mystery of death? It must be admitted that here the fates are almost silent. We no longer believe, it is true, as the Greek did, that it would have been better for us never to have been born. We are proud of our inheritance of life, can already see how it may be bettered in a thousand ways, but hope beyond the grave there is none. Yet we English and Americans have the highest word and the most consoling yet heard among men. Meredith's noble couplet is higher than the best of Sophocles: Into the breast that bears the rose Shall I, with shuddering, fall? These seventy years or so of life are all we've got, but, as Goethe says, we can fill them, if we will, with great deeds and greater dreams. Goethe and Meredith: I have compared them before: I love them both. ... Both are cupbearers undying Of the wine that's meant for souls! 292

CHAPTER VII. HOLIDAYS AND IRISH VIRTUE! I WENT BY SHIP from Athens to Constantinople and admired, as every one must, the superb position of the city; like New York, a queen of many waters. But I was coming away without having learned much when, as my luck would have it, I fell into talk with a German, a student of Byzantine architecture who raved to me of St. Sophia, took me to see it, played guide and expositor of all its beauties time and again, till at length the scales fell from my eyes and I too saw that it was perhaps as he said, "The greatest church in the world," thought I could never like the outside as much as the inside. The bold arches and the immense sweep of pillars and the mosaics, frescoes, and inscriptions on the walls give an unique impression of splendour and grandeur combined, a union of color and form, singular in magnificence. Devout Turks were always worshiping Mahomet in the church and here and there on the pavement schools were being held; but on the walls the older frescoes representing the Crucified One were everywhere, showing through the Mahometan paint or plaster, and the impression left on me was that the Cross everywhere was slowly but surely triumphing over the Crescent. In time I came to see that St. Sophia was a greater achievement even than the Parthenon, and learned in this way that the loftier Spirit usually finds in Time the nobler body. My German friend took me too, to the Church of the Saviour, which he called "the gem of Byzantine work," and indeed the mosaics, at least of the fourteenth century, were richer and more varied than anything I have since seen, even in Palermo. We had a wild passage through the Black Sea and neither Varna nor the Danube wiped out the sense of discomfort. But Belgrade with its citadel pleased me intimately, and Buda with Pesth across the great bridge caught my fancy, its fortress hill reminding me of the Acropolis; but Vienna won my heart. The old Burg Theatre with actors and actresses as good as those of Paris, the noble Opera-House with the best music in Europe, and the Belvedere with its gorgeous Venetian pictures, and the wonderful Armoury, all appealed to me intensely! Then too there was the Court and the military pageants of the Hofburg, and the great library, and above all the rich kindly life of the people in the Wurstelprater, the stout German carpet, so to speak, illumined with a thousand colours of Slav and Semite, Bohemian and Polish embroidery, till even the gypsies seemed to add the touches of barbarism and superstition needed to fringe and set off the gorgeous fabric. In many-sided appeal, Vienna seemed to me richer even than Paris; and Pauline Lucca, exquisite singer at once and beautiful charming person, became to my imagination the genius of the city, with Billroth, the great doctor, as symbol of the science on which the whole life was builded. I find it hard to forgive the barbarian Wilson for maiming and impoverishing a nobler corporate life than he and his compatriots are able to

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produce. It takes a thousand years to make a Vienna and fortunately for us no one man can utterly destroy it. After spending some months in Vienna, I realized that the Danube was the great patrimony which the Viennese had left unexploited. Vienna should be the greatest port in south-western Europe, but the Austrians haven't dredged and developed the noble stream as they should have done. Will they now, in poverty and misery, repair the fault? It is still time—always time, thank goodness! Why did I leave Vienna? Because I had met a girl who attracted me, a cafedancer who was returning for a rest to her home in Salzburg, and who talked to me so much of Salzburg, the birthplace of Mozart—"the most beautiful city in the world," she called it—that I had to go and visit it with Marie for guide. Marie, Marie Kirschner was her real name, and I have tried to sketch her in my story, A Mad Love, for indeed she was the best type of German, or perhaps I should say Austrian. To me she represented Vienna and its charms quite exquisitely. She had a perfect girl's figure, kept slight and lithe with constant exercise, for she danced at least an hour every day to keep up to the mark, as she said. Marie had a piquant, intelligent face with a nez retrousse as cheeky as her light hazel eyes; best of all, she was curiously frank about her sexual experiences and won my heart by telling me, one of the first evenings, how she had been seduced willingly enough, because of her curiosity, by an old banker of Buda-Pesth when she was barely thirteen. "He gave my mother and me enough to live on comfortably for six years or more and let me learn dancing. Otto died in his sleep or he'd have done more for us; he was really kind and I had grown to care for him, though he was a poor lover. However, he left us the house and furniture and I was already earning a fair living—" "And since then?" I asked. Marie tossed her head. "Qui a bu, boira," she said. "Isn't love a part of life and the best part? Even the illusion of love is worth more than anything else, and now and then hope tempts me, as I believe I tempt you. Oh, if we could see Salzburg and the Berchtesgaden and the Geiereck together; what a perfect summer we might have, in most lovely surroundings!" "It's impossible," I said, "to give you an unforgettable memory; you've had so many lovers!" "Never fear a number," she replied, smiling. "The great majority leave us nothing worth remembering; men know little about love. Why till now, my old banker's the best memory I have: he was really affectionate und hatte mich auf den Handen tragen mogen (he would have carried me in his hands)"—a German expression meaning "he took every care of me"— and 294

"He taught me a lot too; oh, Otto was a dear," and with this assurance I took Marie to Salzburg. I had never even heard Salzburg mentioned before among the beautiful cities of Europe, but I found by chance that Wilkie, the Scottish painter, had used something like the right words to describe it. He said that "If the old town of Edinburgh with its castle on a rock were planted in the Trossachs and had a broad swift river like the Tay flowing between the houses of the town, it might resemble Salzburg." Salzburg itself is set amongst mountains and nearby are numberless scenes of romantic beauty: the Traunsee to the east, and the Chiemsee with the King of Bavaria's wonderful palace to the west; while to the south across the Bavarian border is Berchtesgaden, one of the most beautiful regions in Europe. Here is the Untersberg, nearly 7000 feet in height, with the famous Kolowrat caverns containing ice-masses that look like great waterfalls suddenly frozen; and on the eastern side, the Geiereck with the cliffs and precipices that have earned it its name. Marie was an incomparable guide, of the sweetest temper, a born companion and as good a lover as a man. Better indeed in that she made all the preliminaries of love fascinating: Marie was the first to tell me that my voice was musical—a delight to hear—exceedingly powerful, yet resonant and sweet. "I'd rather hear you recite than anyone," she said. "No actor was ever your equal; and your face too: I love the courage in it and the amazing life in it." Marie was a born flatterer and found new compliments continually. Every day she discovered some new trait to praise, but goodness and sweetness of nature are not dramatic or interesting. I did my best forty years later to picture Marie in A Mad Love, and trying to find some fault to make her human, hit upon the fact that she would give her lips readily to any one who touched her heart, even tho' she didn't love him. But—I've not done her goodness justice. Time and again she reminded me of Browning's wonderful verses: Teach me only teach, love, As I ought! I will speak thy speech, love, Think thy thought. Meet if thou require it Both demands Laying flesh and spirit In thy hands. But after six weeks or so I began to feel tired. Eirene's passion had weakened me, and charming, faultless as Marie was, I wanted to learn something new, and I had for the time being at least exhausted German. When we returned from the lovely country and its exquisite walks and drives, I bought Marie a gorgeous picture of Leopold's fairy palace on the Chiemsee and fairly ran away to Florence for the fall. 295

There I worked at Italian first and then at the pictures and the art-life. And now my education in art, always growing, took in the mosaics at Ravenna, and in Milan I came upon a small collection of Visconti armour of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, some suits of which I managed to secure for very small sums. Before the American demand began to grow imperious in the middle eighties, good suits of armour cost very little. I bought a gold inlaid suit complete for £. 100 that I sold five years later In London for £. 5,000; and the dealer got £. 15,000 for it. Italy appears to have taught most visitors a great deal. It taught me very little, but one experience in Milan was valuable. I got to know Lamperti, the great teacher of singing, and his German wife; and from Lamperti I learned a good deal about il bel canto and that culture of the voice for which Italy is famous. Lamperti wanted to teach me his art; he tried my voice and assured me that I'd have a great career, for without training I could sing two notes lower than were ever written. "Your patrimony is in your throat," he used to say, but I assured him it was in my head, and the career of a basso profundo did not appeal to me, though I believe I might have made a good actor. Lamperti had a fund of interesting anecdotes about singers and musicians, and he was the first to tell me that my rooted dislike of the piano came from a good ear. "You have "absolute pitch,'" he said, "an extraordinary ear and a great voice. It's a ski not to cultivate your voice," but I had more important things to cultivate—at least that was my conviction. I've often thought since what a different life I might have had, had I taken Lamperti's advice and used his teaching, but at the time I never even considered it. I picked up whatever I could about music. I read Leopardi morning, noon, and night, for his profound pessimism appealed to me intensely, even in the flower of youth. He says to his heart: ... non val cosa nessuna I moti tuoi, ne di sospiri e degna La terra. Amaro e noia La vita, altro mai nulla, e fango e il mondo. I learned there in Florence for the first time the lesson that Whistler afterwards taught everyone who had ears to hear, that there was no such thing as an artistic period or an artistic people, that great artists were sporadic products, like all other great men, that in fact genius was as rare as talent is common. But I had then no idea that the world is always suffering from want of genius to direct it, and that reverence for it and love of it is always a forecast of its possession. But one amusing experience of this time in Florence may find a place here. I had read a good deal of Italian when a friend one day asked me had I read Ariosto. Strange to say, I had passed him over, though I had read a good deal of Tassoff and some of the moderns and been disappointed. But Ariosto! What had he done? Well, my friend recited his first sonnet on beauty and the 296

riches of love and lent me the book which contained also this lively and witty story. It seems there was a painter whose name Ariosto had forgotten (non mi ricordo il nome), who always painted the devil as a beautiful young man with lovely eyes and thick dark hair. His feet, too, were well-shaped and there were no horns on his head; in everything he was as lovable and as fair as an angel of God. Not wishing to be outdone in courtesy, the devil came once just before daybreak to the painter when he was sleeping and told him to ask whatever he most desired and his wish would be granted him. Now the poor painter had a lovely wife and lived in jealous ecstasies, extremes of doubt and fear; consequently, he begged the devil to show him how he could guard against any infidelity on the part of his wife. The devil at once put a ring on his finger, assuring him that so long as his finger was in this ring, he could make his mind easy, for there would be no cause for even a shadow of suspicion. Glad at heart the painter woke up to find his finger in his wife's sex (it dito ha nella fica all moglier). Even afterwards the name of Ariosto had a meaning to me and significance, for he goes on to say that he isn't sure of the efficacy of the cure: if the woman took it into her head to give herself and deceive the man, she would accomplish even the impossible—a purely Latin view of the matter. I returned to Paris, and in the early spring of 1881 I went out to live in Argenteuil. I don't remember why I went to Argenteuil, but I took an apartment in a villa on the river and there I passed a great summer. I worked hard at French and came to speak it with fluency and fair correctness, but I did not attempt to master it as I had mastered German, though French literature and French art too of the nineteenth century appealed to me infinitely more than the German literature or art of the same period. It was at Argenteuil in this spring that I read Balzac through and quickly came to the conviction that he was the greatest of all modern Frenchmen, the only one indeed who has enlarged our conception of French genius and added a story to the noble building designed and decorated by Montaigne. Balzac is one of the choice and master spirits of the world, but not intellectual enough, or perhaps not dreamer enough, to be in the foremost file and help to steer humanity. In spite of his prodigious creative faculty, he has added no new generic figure to the Pantheon. He knew women profoundly; but even his Baronne Hulot has not the significance of Goethe's Gretchen. This year in Paris was made memorable to me also by meeting Turgenev, as I've told in my "snapshot" of him. I knew then that he was a great man, but I 297

did not put him nearly as high as I did later. Far and away the greatest Russian writer, I see now that by his creation of Bazarof, the realist, he ranks among the leaders and guides of men: a greater artist even than Balzac, though not so productive, perhaps because artistic productivity depends on living a great part of one's life amongst one's own compatriots. In this summer too I met Guy de Maupassant at dinner, thanks to Blanche Macchetta, and our acquaintance began, which was destined to grow year by year more intimate, till his tragic death some ten years later, At the time I thought him at least as great as Turgenev: now I know better. I got to know, too, the handsome Jew journalist Catulle Mendes, surely one of the most wonderful improvisatori ever seen. He could write you a poem like Hugo or De Musset in a few minutes; could imitate any and every master of French prose or verse with equal ease and astounding mastery. Ever afterwards he was to me the perfect model of the man of talent without a touch of genius that might have ennobled or destroyed his unique gift of words. At the time I could only admire him, though I felt that something was lacking in him. His nickname in Paris hit off his beauty of person perfectly— un Christ de Bordel! I had a memorable summer in Paris. In spite of a want of introductions, I came to know this man and that, here a writer on the Figaro, there an artist, and they introduced me to others. Towards the end of the summer I made up my mind to go to Ireland again and study the country and conditions for myself. A little while before, Disraeli had spoken of the cloud in Ireland no larger than a man's hand that might yet develop into a great storm. The increasing power of the Land League, the growth of the court for fixing rents, the advent to power of Parnell, made me eager to study the problem for myself; and so I crossed from Holyhead to Dublin and gazed again at scenes familiar to me in boyhood. From the beginning I went to all the Nationalist meetings, and I suppose it was only natural that my strong bias in favour of Irish freedom should have been strengthened. Still, I went too to Trinity College, Dublin, and got an independent scholarly view that found some good points occasionally even in the castle and English domination. Of course I went to Galway and equally of course to Kerry, where my mother was buried, and I may as well give here the only independent judgment I ever heard of her. A famous Plymouth brother was lecturing once and I went up to him afterwards to inform myself more exactly on some point of his strange creed. As soon as he saw my card he said, "I knew some Harrises well once in Kerry, a Captain and Mrs. Harris; you don't come from that stock, I presume." "Indeed I do!" I exclaimed, and it turned out that he knew both my father and mother very well indeed. As may be imagined, I was intensely interested, 298

particularly when I found that my religious friend was a gentleman with a very good head of his own and a judgment free at least from ordinary bias. He spoke of my father's energy, though clearly he did not like him particularly; but my mother to him was a saint of the sweetest disposition and very goodlooking, "a thousand tunes too good for her domineering, little husband. I had a very great admiration for her," he went on. "Though I was younger, I was really pained to hear of her death. You lost a good mother in her, my friend," was his summing up, and curiously enough, my own childish recollections corroborated the impression he gave of her sweet kindliness of nature. My father too when he spoke of her, which was very seldom, always laid stress on the fact that it was difficult to make her angry: "a very sweet and gentle nature" which her eldest son, Vernon, had inherited. The thing I noticed most in Ireland was the way it rained, and the poverty of the wretched land impressed me the more, the more I studied it. The moral influence of the Catholic Church too was to be seen everywhere in the splendid physique of the people, and I was fated to experience its vigour very sharply. It was at Ballinasloe that I was surprised by the sheer loveliness of the innkeeper's daughter. I had been walking and working hard for some time and was minded to take it easy for a week or so when I came to his inn. The girl captivated me. She hadn't much to do and they liked to hire their jaunting-car to me, and I got into the habit of taking Molly (Margaret was her name) with me everywhere as a guide. Her mother had long been dead and the father found enough to do in his bar, while an elder sister took charge of the house. So Molly and I spent a good deal of time together: I made up to her from the beginning. Naturally I kissed her as soon as I could and as often as I got the chance; and when I told her I loved her, I found she took it much more seriously than I did. "You wouldn't be after marrying me," she said. "You'd be ashamed of me over there in London and Paris and Vienna." My boxes showed labels that were known to everyone in the house. "You're an angel," I replied, "but I have a lot to do before I can think of marrying"; still the kissing and caressing went on continually. I got into the habit of taking my dinner in my sitting-room, for there was seldom anyone in the public dining-room, and when my things were cleared away and I sat reading, Molly would come in and we'd talk like lovers. One evening I asked her why she didn't come to me in bed after everyone was asleep; to my amazement she said she'd love to and I made her promise to come that very night, scarcely daring to believe in my good fortune. About eleven I heard the pattering of bare feet, and as I opened the door that gave into my sitting-room, there was Molly with nothing but a red Indian shawl over her nightie. In bed together I kissed and kissed her and she responded, but as soon as I tried further she held me off: "Sure, you wouldn't be doing anything like that." "You don't care for me much or you wouldn't deny me," was my retort. 299

"Indeed I would; you must be good for I love to cuddle you," and she slipped her arms round me and held me to her till I grew almost crazy with desire. At first I smiled to myself: a few nights of preliminaries and nature would be too strong, but I had reckoned without my host. I have not even described Molly and yet I shall always see her as she stood before me nude that first night. She was as tall as I was and splendidly formed, of the mother-type with large breasts and hips. She held her head turned away, as if she did not want to see me while I perused her naked charms. But her flower face was finer even than her figure: the great grey eyes shaded with long black lashes that curled up, while masses of very dark hair fell to her waist. Curiously enough, her skin was as fair as that of a blonde. When she turned, half-smiling, half-fearful, to me, "Have you seen enough now," I drew down the nightie I had half round her neck. "I could look a long time without ever having enough, you beauty!" "Sure, I'm like everybody else and my cousin Anne Moriarty's the beauty, with her golden hair!" "Nothing like so beautiful as you!" For answer, I kissed her. "You'll catch cold; you'll come to-morrow?" She nodded and I went to bed in a fever. I had failed absolutely, but I was in no hurry and ultimate failure was unthinkable. The next night I began by showing her the syringe and explaining its use. She would hardly hear me out, so I began kissing her sex till she sobbed breathless in my arms; but still she wouldn't let me come to the natural act. "Please not; be good now!" "But why, why?" The question stung her. "How could I ever go to church? I confess every month; sure it's a mortal sin!" "No sin at all and who'd know?" "Father Sheridan would ask me; sure, he knows I like you; I told him." "And he'd condemn it?" "Oh my! That's why I can come to you, because none of them would even dream that I'd come like this to you. But I love to hold you and hear you talk, and to think I please you makes me so proud and glad." "Don't you love my kisses best?" 300

"They make me afraid. Talk to me now; tell me of all the places you've seen. I've been reading of Paris—it must be lovely—wonderful—and the French girls dress so well—oh, I'd love to travel." Again and again I tried, but the denial was adamant. Molly thrilled and melted under my kissing, but would not consent to what she'd have to confess afterwards to the priest. A few days later, I made it my business to meet Father Sheridan and found him very intelligent. He was of the old school, had been brought up in St. Omer and had a delightful French tincture of reading and humour, but alas! He was as crazy as any Irish-bred priest on the necessity of chastity. I drew him out on the subject and found him eloquent. At his fingers' tips, he had all the statistics of illegitimacy and was proud of the fact that it was five times less frequent in Ireland than in England; and to my amusement I found it was commoner in Wales than in Scotland. Sheridan would never admit that the Welsh were Christians at all—"all pagans," he'd say, with intense emphasis, "mere savages without a church or a saint!" He was proud of the fact, I found, that it was his duty to denounce a young man and woman from the pulpit if they kept company too long, or with a suspicion of undue intimacy. "They should marry and not burn," was a favorite phrase of his. "The children of young parents are always healthy and strong": it was an obsession with him. Yet he would drink whisky with me till we both had had more than enough. How do the Irish come to have this insane belief in the necessity and virtue of chastity? It is their unquestioned religious belief that gives it them, yet in the mountains of Bavaria and in parts of the Abruzzi, the peasants are just as religious, and there, too, chastity is highly esteemed, but nothing to be compared to its power in Ireland. I've often wondered why? To cut a long story short, I used all the knowledge I had with Molly, yet failed completely. I knew that at certain periods women feel more intensely than at others; I found out that three or four times each month Molly was easily excited, especially about the eighth day after her monthlies had ceased. I used every advantage; but nothing gave me victory. One night, I was halfinsane, so I promised to do nothing and thus got permission to lie on her, intending if necessary to use a little force. "That's nothing," I repeated, "nothing," as I rubbed my sex on her clitoris; "I'm not going in." But suddenly she took my head in her hands and kissed me. "I trust you, dear; you are too good to take advantage of me," and as I pressed forward, she said quietly, "You know I'd kill myself if anything happened." At once I drew away. I couldn't speak, could hardly think. "All right!" I cried at last. "You've won because you don't care," and I threw myself away from her. 301

"Don't care!" she repeated. "I love you, and I'll love you all my life," and as she took me in her arms all my stupid resentment vanished and I set myself to interest her as much as I could. But with failure in the nightly lists, Ballinasloe soon became intolerable to me. I had long ago exhausted all the beauties of the neighbourhood and had come to the conclusion that outside love, the place was as devoid of intellectual interest as a town in western America. The clergyman I couldn't talk to, the lawyers and doctors were all tenth-rate. Some of the younger men were eager to learn and came to the inn in the evening to hear me talk, but I, too, had to be about my Father's business. I went for a trip to Londonderry to study the citadel of Irish Protestantism and to make the final parting with Molly easier. When I returned, I didn't ask her to come to me at night: what was the good? But the night before I went to Belfast she came and I explored with her some of the side-paths of affection and confessed, with all frankness, that since I met Smith I was all ambition—under a vow, so to speak, to develop every faculty I had at any cost. "I am not ambitious, Molly, of place or power or riches, but of knowledge and wisdom I'm the lover and priest, resolved to let nothing stand in the way." I explained to her that that was the reason why I had come to Ireland, just as the same desire of knowledge had driven me years before round the world, and would no doubt drive me again. "I don't want happiness even, Molly, nor comfort, though I'll take all I can get of both, but they're not my aim or purpose. I'm wedded to the one quest like a knight of the Holy Grail and my whole life will go to the achievement. Don't ask me why, I don't know. I only know that Smith, my friend and professor in Lawrence, Kansas, lit the sacred fire in me and I'll go on till death. You must not think I don't care for you; I do with all my heart. You're a great woman, heart and soul and body, but my work calls me and I must go." "I've always felt it," she said quietly, "always felt that you would not stay here or marry anyone here. I understand and I only hope your ambition may make you happy, for without happiness, without love, is there anything worth having in life? I can't believe it, but then I'm only a girl. If you ever thought of coming back, write first. To see you suddenly would stop my heart with joy." 302

CHAPTER VIII. HOW I MET FROUDE AND WON A PLACE IN LONDON AND GAVE UP WRITING POETRY! NOW MY LEHRJAHRE (student years) were ended, London drew me irresistibly; I hardly know why. It impressed me much more than New York: besides, I feared a return of malaria if I went back to the States; then, too, I had a letter of introduction to Froude from Carlyle. Why not present it and see what would come of it? My boyish resolution to do every piece of work with all my heart, as well as I could do it, still held, I was sure, its conquering magic. I'd find it as easy to open the oyster of success in London as in New York; easier, I had no doubt. I crossed from Paris to London, took a room in the Grosvenor Hotel, and next morning called in Onslow Gardens. Mr. Froude, I found, was spending the summer at Salcombe in South Devon and was not expected in London for a month or more. I wanted to take his exact address. Accordingly, the servant asked me into the dining-room and brought me writing paper. The furnishing of the room, the pictures here and in the hall made an impression on me of well-to-do comfort and refinement of taste much beyond any impression left on me in New York. I began to feel the truth of what Emerson had said a score of years before: "The Englishman's lot is still the best in the world." The forty years that have elapsed since, and especially the great war, have changed all this. Life in New York today strikes one as more luxurious than that of London, though still inferior in taste and refinement. London itself taught me a great deal about the Englishman. It is immense: no limit to its energy: healthy, too, in spite of its wretched climate; well-drained and clean: but it never rises high. One thinks of the East-End, how mean and coarse and grovelling, the narrow streets and cluttering hovels, and the West-End, now comfortable, now pretentious, now primly vulgar—clothed in stucco as in broadcloth. But there are grassy parks and open spaces where one has a glimpse of nature, and here and there too a noble house or fine pointing spire or bold adventurous bridge. The worst of it is, there is no plan, no general idea directing this indefatigable activity. It is built by beavers and not by men; industry everywhere and not intelligence. It depresses the spirit, therefore; its smoke and grime too, are characteristic: no generous ideal: let us all live in fog so long as we eat well and sleep softly. But there is no unnecessary noise; London is the quietest of cities and the methods of transport are excellent and cheap. The industry is efficient, though not artistic. After the great fire, Wren made out a plan of a new London. His great cathedral, set in a noble space and open to the Thames, was to be the centre. Three great boulevards were to run from St. Paul's westward, parallel to the river, each of them 150 feet wide near the cathedral and growing narrower as they passed into the country; every half a mile or so a parish church was to stand in its park-like square of grassy circle; and so the Embankment, the

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Strand, and Oxford Street could have been developed to high purpose, but no! The builders preferred to build as their fathers had builded, without plan or design, and we have the wretched result: narrow winding streets in the heart of the city, no thought, no soul. London is the meanest of great capitals, with the solitary exception of Berlin; yet, if the English had followed Wren, it might easily have been the noblest. I went back to the Grosvenor, wondering whether I ought to go to Salcombe or try to get work in London. An accident determined me. I was in the smoking-room after lunch when a couple of gentlemen drew my attention. The afternoon was wet and they were passing the time by betting on the flies crawling up the window panes. I heard one say, "I'll bet five hundred this one gets higher in two minutes," and then the other: "Done with you and I'll bet a thou mine reaches the top first." The younger man was nearly drunk, and I soon saw that his older companion sought to confuse him by running three or four different bets at the same time. This idea caused me to watch more carefully, and it soon became clear to me that the older man was cheating the younger. Suddenly, to my surprise I heard him, after a brief dispute, say, "That makes ten thou you owe me— quite enough, too, for such an idiotic game." The younger man pulled himself together and remarked with the portentous gravity of intoxication: "Five thou, Gerald, at most, and I don't believe you reckoned in the thou I gained with my bluebottle." "Oh yes, I did," replied the sharper. "Don't you remember: it was at the very outset when I owed you a couple of thousand." "You're d... d clever, Gerald," retorted the other, as if hesitating, and then with a sudden decision, "I'll give you an I.O.U. this evening." His friend nodded, "All right, old man!" As the two were leaving the room I called over the waiter. "Who are those gentlemen?" I asked. "The young one, Sir, is Lord C—, son of the Earl of D—; the other isn't staying here. He's a friend and his name's Costello, I believe. Lord C—, Sir, can drink; he's not often drunk like that." I don't know why, but Lord C— had made so pleasant an impression on me that I resolved to open his eyes, if I could, to the fact that he had won and not lost and ought not to pay £. 5000, or indeed anything at all. Accordingly, I sat down, then and there, and wrote an exact accounting of what I had noticed and sent it to Lord C—'s apartment. Next morning I got a note from him, thanking me warmly and asking me to meet him in the smoking-room. We met and I found him curiously generous, willing even to make all sorts of allowances for the so-called friend who had plainly cheated 304

him. On the other hand, I was indignant and advised him to send my letter just as it was to his friend. I was willing to stand by every word. "Very kind of you, I'm sure," said Lord C—. "I think I'll do that. Are you going to stay in London? Would you lunch with me to-day?" I consented and in the course of lunch told him I wanted to go to Salcombe to see Froude. He knew Salcombe and spoke with admiration of the beauties of the Devon coast and indeed of the whole county. "You ought to drive down," he told me. "That is the best way to see our English scenery." I shrugged my shoulders regretfully. "I'm not rich enough to indulge in such pastime: I must soon get to work." The next morning I was told that some one wanted to see me at the door. I went there and found a groom with a dog-cart, who handed me a letter from Lord C—, begging me to accept the dog-cart and horse and drive down to Salcombe. "My groom," he added, "knows every foot of the way and I'm not using him for the next month. You've done me a very good turn; I hope you'll allow me to do you one. Only one thing I ask—that you'll not mention anything about the betting episode." But after forty years there can be no harm in recalling it. Next day, after thanking Lord C— for his splendid present, I set off for Salcombe and about a fortnight later called upon Mr. Froude in his house on a cliff overlooking the bay. I was ushered into a delightful room and gave the servant Carlyle's letter to take to Mr. Froude. In a few moments Froude came in with the letter in his hand. He was tall and slight, of scholarly, ascetic appearance. "An extraordinary letter," he began. "You know what Carlyle says in it?" "No, I don't," I replied. "I put it in my pocket when he gave it to me, and when I took it out I found it had stuck and I never opened it. I knew it would be friendly and more than fair." "It's very astonishing," Froude broke in. "Carlyle asks me to help you in your literary ambitions; says he 'expects more considerable things from you than from anyone he has met since parting from Emerson.' I'd be very proud if he had said it about me. Take a seat, won't you, and tell me about your meeting with him. I have always thought him the best brain, the greatest man of our tune," and the grey eyes searched me. "He has been my hero," I said, "since I first read Latter Day Pamphlets and Heroes and Hero Worship as a cowboy in western America." "A cowboy!" repeated Froude, as if amazed. "It was Carlyle's advice," I went on, "that sent me for four years to German universities; and I finished my schooling with a year in Athens." 305

"How interesting," said Froude, who evidently did not understand that adventures come to the adventurous. We talked for an hour or more, but when he asked me to lunch as a sort of after-thought, I told him I had arranged to drive back to the near-by town and lunch with a friend. On this he assured me that he would return to London in a fortnight or so and soon after give a dinner and invite Chenery, the editor of The Times, and other people of importance in literature to meet me. He would do his best to carry out Carlyle's wishes. I thanked him, of course, warmly, while protesting that I didn't want to give him trouble. He then asked me, had I written anything he could read? I pulled out a small bound book in which I had written in my best copperplate hand a few dozen poems, chiefly sonnets, and gave it to him. A little later we shook hands and I returned to my inn and next morning set off for London by another road. The English country pleased me hugely, it was so neat and well-kept, but there was nothing grandiose about the scenery—nothing as fine as the Catskills, nothing to compare with the enthralling beauty of eastern France, to say nothing of the Rockies! Hardly had I left Froude when I realized that I should indeed be a fool if I trusted to his help. "Help yourself, my friend," I kept repeating to myself, "then, if he helps, so much the better; and if he doesn't, it won't matter." I still had a couple of hundred pounds behind me. When I reached London I sent the groom with the dog-cart and horse back to Lord C—, thanking him for a superb holiday and lovely trip. But I took care the very same day to engage rooms near the British Museum at a pound or so a week, and there I went and unpacked, first telling the Grosvenor Hotel people that I'd call once a week for letters. My acquaintance with Lord C— won me much politeness. A morning or two later, I saw in one of the papers something about John Morley and the Fortnightly Review; the journal called it, I remember, "the most literary of our reviews." I took down the address of it in Henrietta Street, Covent Garden, and without losing time, went and called about nine o'clock in the morning. To my surprise, the office was a sort of shop, the publishing house of Chapman and Hall. The clerk behind the counter told me that Mr. Chapman usually came in about eleven and if I could wait—I asked for nothing better; so I took a seat and waited. At about ten-thirty Mr. Chapman came in, a well-made man of five feet ten or so, past the prime of life, with thinning hair and a tendency to stoutness. I got up as soon as I heard his name and said, "I'd like a few minutes with you." He took me up to his room on the first floor and I told him how I had just returned from a visit to Froude, to whom I had taken a letter from Carlyle. He appeared greatly impressed, regretted that he had nothing for me to do; but when I spoke of working for the Fortnightly, he said I should come back in the afternoon and see Mr. Escort, who was the acting editor in place of Mr. John Morley. At four o'clock I turned up and Chapman introduced me to T. H. S. 306

Escott. Escort was a good-looking, personable man, very curious as to how I had come to know Carlyle and what Froude had said to me, but at the end he turned me down flatly. "I have nothing for you to do, I'm sorry," was his curt dismissal. "Have you never any translation?" I asked. "Seldom," he replied, "but I'll bear you in mind!" "Don't do that," I replied. "Let me come each day and if you've nothing to do, it won't matter. But I'll be on hand if unexpectedly you need a proof read or an article verified or anything." "As you please," he said rudely, shrugging his shoulders, as he turned away disdainfully—I couldn't but see. But every morning I was seated in the shop when Chapman came. He used to acknowledge my bow with an embarrassed air. When Escott arrived in the afternoon, he generally went straight up to his back room on the first floor, pretending not even to see me. After about a week Chapman asked me up to his room one day and told me politely that I must see now there was nothing for me to do: would it not be better to try elsewhere rather than wait about? I felt sure Escott had suggested this to him. I said I hoped I was not bothering him; I would soon have regular work; I'd tell him as soon as I succeeded; meantime, I hoped he would not mind my being on hand. "No, no!" he hastened to say. "It's for your sake I'm speaking; I only wish I had something for you to do." On this I smiled and went away till the next day, when again I was in my place as before. Meanwhile I was fitting another string to my bow; I had got to know A. R. Cluer, now a county court judge, on a railway journey, and almost at once we became friends by dint of similarity of taste and interests. He had rooms in the Temple and one day he asked me why I did not try to get work on the Spectator. He advised me to ask Escott to give me an introduction to the chief editor, Hutton. But I would not ask Escott for any favour, and so there and then Cluer went round with me to the Spectator office and saw me enter. When the clerk came, I said, "I want to see Mr. Hutton!" "Have you an appointment?" "No," I replied, and at the same time I took out a sovereign and laid it before him. "Tell me where Mr. Hutton is," I said, "and that pound is yours." 307

"On the second floor," whispered the clerk hastily. "But you won't give me away, will you?" "No, no," I assured him. "I'll go up and you need never even have seen me." I went out of the shop at once, and up the stairs at the side. When I got to the second floor I knocked: no answer; a minute or two later I knocked again, and loudly. "Come in!" I heard and in I went. There was a big man seated at a table with his back to me, immersed in some proofs; he was evidently very near-sighted, because his nose was almost touching the manuscripts. I stood a few moments by his left side, quietly taking stock of the room with its bookcases opposite to me, then I coughed loudly. The big man dropped his glasses on the table and turned to me at once, evidently surprised out of politeness. "Goodness gracious!" he exclaimed, "who are you? How did you come in?" "My name won't help you much, Mr. Hutton," I replied, smiling, "and I don't want to bother you. I want work, think I can write—" "We have too many writers," he ejaculated. "Can't find work enough for those we know." "There's always room at the top," I countered. "Suppose I can do better than any you've got; it'll be to your interest to use me." "Goodness me!" he exclaimed. "Do you think you can write better than any of us?" "No, no," I corrected, "but there are some subjects I know better than any Englishman. You're a judge: the first ten lines of an article by me will tell you whether I am merely diseased with conceit or whether I'm really worth using." "That's true," he said, getting up and going over to the bookcase, "Do you know anything about Russia?" "I was with General Skobelef at Plevna." "Goodness me!" he ejaculated again. "Here's a book on Russia and the war that may interest you," and he handed me a volume. "Have you any special knowledge of the United States?" he went on, still peering at the books. "I've been through a western university," I replied, "am a member of the American bar, have practiced law." 308

"Really?" he cried. "Well, here's a book of Freeman on America that may amuse you. Don't be afraid of telling the truth about it," he went on. "If you disagree with him, say so!" "Thanks ever so much," I replied. "I'm greatly obliged to you. The chance to show what I can do is all I want," and I went out at once, but not before I had caught a kindly glint in the peering eyes, which showed me that Richard Holt Hutton was really a gentleman who put on a hard abruptness of manner to mask or perhaps to protect his real sweetness of nature. When I got downstairs I showed the clerk the books as a proof he would not be blamed, and I took pains to thank him again before I rejoined Cluer. When Cluer saw the books and heard that I had talked with Hutton, he exclaimed, "I don't know how you managed it. I won a first class at Oxford and wrote to him, but could not even see him. How did you manage?" Under a promise of secrecy I told him, and then we talked of the books and what I'd write, but I didn't go straight home and begin the job at once, as Cluer advised. First of all I sat down and thought. Many days had passed since I returned to London and I had had as yet no hint of success, saw in fact no gleam even of hope. What was I to do? I must win soon! It struck me almost at once that I ought to know the mark I was aiming at. To win R. H. Hutton, I must know him first; accordingly, next morning I went to the British Museum and asked for all his books. I got a dozen or more ponderous tomes and spent the next two days reading them. At the end of that time I saw the soul of R. H. Hutton before me as a very small entity, a gentle-pious spirit, intensely religious. "He will enjoy a slating of Freeman," I said to myself, "for he knows Freeman to be rude, cocksure and aggressive. I'll give Hutton just what he wants." I went home and wrote the best stuff I could write on the Russian book, and then, after reading Freeman with great care and finding that indeed he was the very type of an arrogant, pompous pedant who mistook learning for wisdom, I let myself go and wrote an honest but contemptuous review of his book; indeed, there was nothing in it for the soul. I ended my review with the remark that "as Malebranche saw all things in God, so Mr. Freeman sees all things in the stout, broad-bottomed, aggressive Teuton." I had made another friend in my first week in London who was now to stand me in good stead, the Reverend John Verschoyle, then a curate at Marylebone Church. I don't remember how I met him; but I soon discovered in him one of the most extraordinary literary talents of the time; in especial a gift for poetry almost comparable to that of Swinburne. 309

Verschoyle was of good family and had migrated from Trinity College, Dublin to Cambridge, where at seventeen he had written the Greek verses for the year book issued by the university; his English verse, too, seemed to me miraculous—a lyric gift of the highest. Though only an inch or so taller than I was, he was fifty inches round the chest and prodigiously strong. I called him a line battle-ship cut down to a frigate. He was handsome, too, with a high forehead, good features and long, golden moustache. Of all the men I met in my life, the one that most people would have selected as likely to do great things, at least in literature; yet he brought it to nothing and died untimely in middle-age. He happened to call on me just when I had finished my two reviews and naturally I gave him them to read. He knew Hutton's works. "A high churchman," he called him, "who admires Newman prodigiously." At once he declared that Hutton would certainly take the article on Russia; it was so new that Russia should show signs of a revolutionary spirit, was so unexpected, and so forth. "I wanted your criticism," I insisted. "Please point out any faults: I'm more at home in German than in English." He smiled: "Here's a sentence that proves that, I think, and there's another." Soon we were at it hammer and tongs, but he quickly convinced me that my half-doubt was amply justified. After he had gone through the two articles, I had had the best lesson in English I ever got. From that day on for five years the Bible and Swift never left my bedside, and in those years I never opened a German book, not even my beloved Heine or Schopenhauer. It had taken me years to learn German, but it took me twice as long to cleanse my brain of every trace of the tongue. No writer should ever try to master two languages. I wrote or rewrote the little essays and then sent them off to Hutton. The next day I was back at my post at Chapman's, and when I told Chapman that I was on the Spectator he laughed and said he was delighted; and a day or two later he called me in and gave me a couple of books he wanted my opinion on. "Meredith is our reader," he said; "but it takes him weeks often to give an opinion and I'd like to know about these books as soon as possible." My chance had come. I thanked him, went straight home and sat down at once to read and re-read the books. They took me all day and I spent the best part of the night writing my opinion of them. Next morning I went round to Verschoyle with them, who told me the reviews were all right, showed indeed remarkable improvement in my English. "The short sentences strike the right note," he remarked, "but you mustn't let them become stereotyped; you must vary them very often." I thanked him and took the reviews to Chapman. He was greatly impressed. "I thought you'd keep 'em a week," he said. "I had no wish to hurry you so." 310

"It's nothing," I replied, "but the one book you could publish with some changes; the other is puerile." "I agree with you," he said, "and if you take this to the cashier downstairs, he'll give you the two guineas for your opinion." "No, no," I exclaimed. "I'm heavily in your debt for letting me bother you as I've done. Please use me whenever you can; I'll be only too glad to be of any service." Chapman smiled at me most cordially and from that day on gave me books every week, and asked me my opinion on this or that literary matter almost every day. He must have praised me to Escott too, for one afternoon Escott asked me up to the Fortnightly office and gave me a German article he wanted me to read and write an opinion on. "Shall I translate it?" I asked. "Only if you find it astonishingly good," he replied. Next day he had my written opinion. A little later he gave me an Italian article to translate and shortly afterwards, complaining that his work on the World took up a lot of his time, he gave me half the Fortnightly to correct; and when he found I did this too with the utmost care and speed, he asked me to sit in his room and soon I was playing secretary and factotum there every afternoon. The importunity that in the Bible won God had been successful too in London. But though a month had passed since I came from Salcombe, I had heard nothing from Froude, and, stranger still, nothing from the Spectator. I could only possess my soul in patience. Meanwhile I saw Verschoyle nearly every day and one day had a little dispute with him which showed, I think, a difference of nature. We had been discussing a passage in a Fortnightly article of mine, when he said: "These prolusions of ours are very interesting but don't lead to any goal." "Self-improvement is the best of goals," I replied; "but I hate your word 'prolusions.' It's correct enough, but surely a trifle pedantic?" "The exact word is rarely pedantic," he asserted. "Why not 'prolusion,' rather than 'preparatory exercise?'" "I can't say," was my answer, "but I want to be understood by the people at once. I would not use 'prolusion' for anything." Verschoyle shrugged his broad shoulders in manifest disagreement. 311

It was Verschoyle who first introduced me to modern English poetry and to a number of living English poets, notably to a Dr. Westland Marston and his blind son, Phillip. They lived in the Euston Road, and though now poor had apparently been well off formerly, and were friends with all the literary men of repute. Verschoyle told me that Phillip Marston had had the most unhappy life. He had been engaged to a very pretty girl, Mary Nesbit (sister of E. Nesbit, afterwards Mrs. Hubert Bland,) and one morning going to her room to wake her he found her dead. The shock nearly killed him. A couple of years later, his dearest friend Oliver Maddox Brown, f died almost as suddenly. Three or four years later his sister, Cicely, who had been quite well the day before, was found dead in her bed in the morning. His other sister, Eleanor, died in the following year, 1879; and his most intimate friend and fellow-poet, Arthur O'Shaughnessy, some two years afterwards. And in 1882 James Thomson,} the author of The City of Dreadful Night, was taken with a seizure in Phillip's rooms and carried out to a hospital to die; and in the same year, his hero and friend Rossetti died at Birchington. It looked as if fate had picked him out for punishment, and so fear came to me that misfortune often dogs gifted mortals, whereas fortune flees them. Phillip Marston was good-looking with a fine forehead and auburn hair; his eyes seemed quite natural and very expressive. I don't know why, but I agreed almost at once with Verschoyle's estimate that Phil Marston was one of the sweetest and most unselfish of men. We spent the whole afternoon together and before we left Phillip asked me to return when I liked. In a day or two I called again and had some hours with him: he took to me, he said, because I was almost as hopeless as he was. "Verschoyle," he went on "puzzles me with his Christian belief. I have no belief, none, cannot conceive how any one can cherish any faith in the future, however faint, and I feel that you agree with me." "Yes, indeed," I replied, and quoted, Only a sleep eternal In an eternal night! He bowed his head and said with inexpressible sadness, "'Dead! All's done with,' as Browning says. There's no hope for the survivors, either, none." "I am not so sure," I interrupted. "It seems to me that the wisest of men are always the most kindly, and from that fact I draw the hope that in the future, bit by bit, we mortals may get to loving-kindness for each and every man born, and so make this earthly pilgrimage a scented way of inexpressible delights." "The sweeter you make it," he cried, "the worse it will be to leave it." "Is that true?" I asked. "Surely, when we have drunk deep of love and life, we shall be able to go to death as one now leaves a table—satisfied." 312

It was dear Amy Levy, whom I got to know about this tune, who gave perfect expression to my thought, though she herself was as hopeless as Marston: The secret of our being, who can tell? To praise the gods, and Fate is not my part; Evil I see and pain; within my heart There is no voice that whispers: "All is well." Yet fair are days in summer and more fair The growths of human goodness here and there. "Beautiful, beautiful," he repeated when I had finished reciting the sextet, "and true; but it does not take us far, does it?" Phillip Marston was beyond any consolation—pain clothed him as with a garment—but his pity for others and his sympathy with human sorrow was inexhaustible. A little later he gave me a volume of his poems. "I've written, too, on the eternity of sleep," he said, and in the book I found this sonnet he had written to his love, Mary Nesbit. To me, it seems one of the sincerest and noblest of English elegies, though steeped in sadness. It must have been for one of us, my own, To drink this cup and eat this bitter bread. Had not my tears upon thy face been shed, Thy tears had dropped on mine; if I alone Did not walk now, thy spirit would have known My loneliness; and did my feet not tread This weary path and steep, thy feet had bled For mine, and thy mouth had for mine made moan. And so it comforts me, yea, not in vain, To think of thine eternity of sleep; To know thine eyes are tearless though mine weep; And when this cup's last bitterness I drain, One thought shall still its primal sweetness keep— Thou had'st the peace, and I, the undying pain. About this time, too, I came to know Miss Mary Robinson and her sister, but for some reason or other we did not get on very well. She laughed at me once over something I had said and chilled me. I was perhaps too young to realize her value, and soon she married a French professor and went to Paris to live and I lost sight of her; but now and again since I have had glimpses of a fine mind and regretted that I had not learned to know her. I think it was Francis Adams, the poet of The Army of the Night, who introduced me to the Robinsons. I shall have much to tell of him later, but now I need only say Verschoyle and the Marstons, Amy Levy, Miss Robinson and Francis Adams made me aware of the fact that London at that time, and indeed at all times, 313

thanks to the eternal goodness, is a nest of singing birds, crowded, indeed, with men and women of talent and distinction, who moreover are usually devoted to poetry as the noblest of all the arts. My chief fault in life and as a critic, as Shaw has felt, is that I have always been an admirer of great men and never cared greatly for those who fell short of the highest. Marston interested me as Amy Levy interested me, by the sheer pathos of their unhappy fate and immitigable suffering, but it was only later that I came to see that their poetic achievement, too, if not of the very highest, was of real value and had extraordinary importance. After his untimely death on the fourteenth of February, 1887, people talked of poor Marston's drinking habits and how he would sit up at night till all hours and—the cackle of stupidity! The fools could not even forgive the blind for trying to turn night into day! If drinking drowned sad, lonely thoughts, why not drink? I thank dear Phil Marston for hours of sweet companionship and an exquisite, all-embracing sympathy, and England can never forget his noble poetry. About this time I got a letter one morning that surprised me. My name on the envelope was written in such tiny characters that I could scarcely read it, but when I opened the cover two proofs fell out, Spectator proofs at last and a letter in Hutton's tiny script! "You were right," he began, "your reviews justify you. The one on Freeman is a gem and the Russian one provokes thought and may lead to discussion. I send you proofs of both and should be delighted if you'd call with them when corrected. I want more of your work. Yours truly, R. H. Button." At last the door was forced. I sat as in a charmed trance for some little time, then I opened the proofs and tried to read them as if a stranger had written them. The Russian one was certainly the better of the two, but it was the review of Freeman, aimed at Hutton's head and heart, that had won the prize. Food for thought in that. I began then to say to myself that no one can see above his own head. As I read the articles I noticed little roughnesses of swing and measure and set myself to correct them on another paper: I wanted to show Verschoyle the virginal proofs and get his opinion. While working in this way the noon post brought me a letter from Froude excusing his long silence, but he wished the dinner in my honour to be a great success and he had to wait till certain people had returned to town. Now, however, he'd be glad to see me on such and such a night and he'd keep my remarkable poems till then. "They have proved to me," he concluded, "that Carlyle's estimate of you was justified." Nothing could be more flattering, but my discussions with Verschoyle and the reading of his and Marston's poetry had shaken my belief in my 314

qualifications as a lyric poet; still, I had recently written a sonnet or two that I liked greatly and—conceit does not die of one blow. That afternoon I took the Spectator proofs to Verschoyle who, strange to say, agreed with Hutton that the Freeman paper was the better of the two, and he only suggested a single emendation, which I had already jotted down. Clearly his critical gift in prose was not as sure as in verse, or he was not so interested, for I had made some forty corrections. Next day I took the proofs most scrupulously corrected to Hutton and had a delightful talk with him. "Write on anything you like," he said, "only let me know beforehand what subject you've chosen so that we shan't clash. Let me know always by Monday morning, will you? I like your English, simple, yet rhythmic, but it's your knowledge that's extraordinary. You'll make a name for yourself; I wonder you're not known already. These are not days to hide one's light under a bushel," and he laughed genially. "On the contrary," I cried, "we put it with large reflectors behind it in front of the tent and pay a barker to praise our illuminating power." "A barker!" repeated Hutton. "What's that?" and I explained the racy term to him to his delight. "You Americans!" he repeated. "A barker! What a painting word!" But I didn't forget that I had still to win his heart, so when a pause came, I remarked quietly, "I wonder, Mr. Hutton, if you could help me to one of my ambitions. I knew Carlyle well, but I also admire Cardinal Newman immensely, though I've never had the joy of meeting him. Would it be too much to ask you for an introduction to him?" He promised at once to help me. "Though I don't know him intimately," he added reflectively, "still, I can give you a word to him. But how strange that you should admire Newman!" "The greatest of all the Fathers," I cried enthusiastically. "The sweetest of all the Saints!" "First rate," exclaimed Hutton. "That might be his epitaph. With that tongue of yours, you don't need any introduction; I'll just cite your words to him, and he'll be glad to see you. 'The greatest of all the Fathers,'" he repeated. "That may indeed be true, but surely St. Francis of Assisi is 'the sweetest of all the Saints?'" I nodded, smiling. Hutton was right, but I felt that I must not outstay my welcome, so I took my leave, knowing I had made a real friend in dear Holt Hutton. About this time I wrote an article in the Spectator which won for me the acquaintance and praise, if not the friendship, of T. P. O'Connor, M. P., a very 315

clever and agreeable Irishman who stands high among contemporary journalists. He has met most of the famous men of his time, but has hardly ever written of the indicating figures; the second and third rate pleasing him better. So far as I know, he has never even tried to study or understand any great man in the quirks of character or quiddities of nature that constitute the essence of personality. He has written for the many about their gods— Hall Caine and Gosse, Marie Corelli and Arnold Bennett, Conrad and Gilbert Frankau—and has had his reward in a wide popularity. But in the early eighties he was still young with pleasing manners and the halo about his head of possible achievement. Now for Froude and his dinner, which had I known it, was to flavour my experience with a sense of laming, paralysing defeat. Before dinner Froude introduced me to Mr. Chenery, the editor of The Times, and at table put me on his left. When the dinner was almost over, he presented me to the score of guests by saying that Carlyle had sent him a letter, asking him to help me in my literary career and praising me in his high way. He (Froude) had read some of my poems and had assured himself that Carlyle's commendation was well deserved; he then read one of my sonnets to let his guests judge. "Mr. Harris," he added, "tells me that he has begun writing for the Spectator, and most of us know that Mr. Hutton is a good, if severe, critic." To say I was pleased is nothing: almost every one drank wine with me or wished me luck with that charming English bonhomie which costs so little and is so ingratiating. As we rose to go to the drawing-room for coffee, I slipped into the hall to get my latest sonnet from my overcoat. I might be asked to read a poem, and I wanted my best. How easily one is flattered to folly at seven and twenty! When I reached the drawing-room door, I found it nearly closed and a tall man's shoulders almost against it. I did not wish to press rudely in, and as I stood there I heard the big man ask his companion what he thought of the poetry. "I don't know; why should you ask me?" replied his friend, in a thin voice. "Because you are a poet and must know," affirmed the tall man. "If you want my opinion," the weak voice broke in, "I can only say that the sonnet we heard was not bad. It showed good knowledge of verse form, very genuine feeling, but no new singing quality, not a new cadence in it." "No poet, then?" said the tall man. "Not in my opinion!" was the reply. 316

The next moment the pair moved away from the door and I entered; with one glance I convinced myself that my stubborn critic was Austin Dobson, who assuredly was a judge of the technique of poetry. But the condemnation did not need weighting with authority; it had reached my very heart because I felt it, knew it to be true. "No new singing quality, not a new cadence in it"; no poet then; a trained imitator. I was hot and cold with self-contempt. Suddenly Mr. Froude called me. "I want to introduce you," he said, "to our best publisher, Mr. Charles Longman, and I'm glad to be able to tell you that he has consented to bring out your poems immediately; and I'll write a preface to them." Of course I understood that 'good kind Froude,' as Carlyle had called him, was acting out of pure goodness of heart; I knew too that a preface from his pen would shorten my way to fame by at least ten years. But I was too stricken, too cast down to accept such help. "It's very, very kind of you, Mr. Froude!" I exclaimed, "And I don't know how to thank you, and Mr. Longman too, but I don't deserve the honour. My verses are not good enough." "You must allow us to be the judge of that," said Froude, a little huffed, I could see, by my unexpected refusal. "Oh, please not," I cried. "My verses are not good enough; really, I know; please, please give them back to me!" He lifted his eyebrows and handed me the booklet. I thanked him again, but how I left the room I have no idea. I wanted to be alone, away from all those kind, encouraging, false eyes, to be by myself alone. I was ashamed to the soul by my extravagant self-estimate. I took a cab home and sat down to read the poems. Some of them were poor and at once I burned them, but after many readings three or four still seemed to me good and I resolved to keep them; but I could not sleep. At last, in a fever, I heard the milkman with his cans and knew it was seven o'clock. I had lost a precious night's sleep. I flung myself out of bed and burnt the last four sonnets, then got into bed again and slept the sleep of the just till past noon. I awoke to the full consciousness that I was not a poet; never again would I even try to write poetry, never. Prose was all I could reach, so I must learn to write prose as well as I could and leave poetry for more gifted singers. Renewed hope came with physical exercise. After all, I had done a good deal in my first month or so. I had steady work on the Spectator; Hutton paid me three pounds for each paper, and I took care to write at least one every week and often two. Escott gave me more and more work on the Fortnightly, and after I had told him of Froude's dinner in my honour, he invited me to dine at his home in Brompton and I got to know his wife and pretty daughter. Chapman too invited me to his house in Overton Square, and I began to know quite a number of more or less interesting folk. 317

CHAPTER IX. FIRST LOVE; HUTTON, ESCOTT, AND THE EVENING NEWS HOW DOES LOVE come first to a man? Romance writers all agree that love comes as a goddess in blinding light, or ravishment of music or charm of scenery, but always crowned, always victorious. Mine is a plain unvarnished tale; love befell me in those first months in London in a most commonplace way, and yet I'll swear with Shakespeare that my love ... was as fair As any she belied with false compare. I was earning some five or six pounds a week and living quietly in Bloomsbury near the British Museum. I had occasion to call on someone in a boarding-house in the same district who had sent an article to the Fortnightly. I was shown into a parlour on the ground floor by the untidy maid and told that the lady would be down soon. While waiting, a girl was shown in and also asked to wait. She came towards me where I was standing by the window and took my breath. Every detail of her appearance in the strong light is printed in my memory, even the shade of blue of the cloak she was wearing. She was rather tall, some five feet five, and walked singularly well, reminding me of Basque and Spanish girls I had seen, who swam rather than walked—a consequence, I had found out, of taking short even steps from the hips. Her eyes met mine fairly and passed on: long hazel eyes of the best, broad forehead, rather round face, good lips, firm though small chin; a lovely girl, I decided, with a mane of chestnut hair brightened with strands of gold. She was well, though not noticeably dressed, the long blue cloak and her apparent self-possession giving her rather the air of a governess. I resolved to speak to her. "Waiting is weary work," I began with a smile. "It depends where and with whom," she replied with a touch of coquetry, but without a trace of English accent. "Are you English?" I blurted out impulsively. "Half-American, half-English," she answered, smiling. Her smile lit up her face enchantingly; it was like coming from a shuttered room into sunshine. "My case too," I cried, "only instead of English, you'd have to say half-Welsh." "Strange," she replied, laughing outright, "in my case, to be exact, you'd have to say half-Irish." "Let us both keep to our American halves," I said, "then there will be nothing strange in my presenting myself. I am Frank Harris and trying here in London to be a writer."

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"And my name is Laura Clapton." A few more questions and in five minutes I found that she was living with her father and mother in Gower Street; her father was a stockbroker and I could call any afternoon. I had time to promise I'd come next day and tell besides how I was working on the Fortnightly Review and the Spectator, thanks chiefly to my knowledge of various countries and languages. "I know some foreign languages, too," said Miss Laura. I was simply delighted to find her accent as good in German, French, Italian and Spanish as it was in English, and her command of the languages extraordinary: "Two years spent with my mother in each country," was her explanation. Next day I called and was introduced to a little, round-faced, roly-poly of a mother. Very ugly, I thought, with pug nose and small gray-blue eyes, but in spite of face and figure, the little fat woman had an air of dignity, or, it would be truer to say, of imperiousness tinged with temper. When I met Queen Victoria later I was irresistibly reminded of Mrs. Clapton. When Mr. Clapton came in the same evening, I saw where the daughter had got her good looks. Clapton was a handsome Irishman of perhaps five feet eleven, showing his fifty years in stoutness and greying hair. All his features were excellent, the hazel eyes splendid, and the man's personality genial and attractive. I easily understood how coming to Memphis, Tennessee, at five and twenty, the senator's daughter he met fell promptly in love with him. But he had been unfaithful and the proud southern girl wouldn't forgive him, and had taught her only daughter too to take her side, though in public the family held together. The whole situation was clear that first evening and I took an immediate liking to the good-looking, happy-go-lucky father, who probably out of custom kept up appearances with his unattractive wife for old affection's sake, and the pride he took in his daughter's looks and cleverness. For the daughter was undoubtedly clever and her looks grew on me: moving about in the room, taking off her hat and seating herself, the rhythmic grace of her beautiful figure made itself felt. I think from the beginning the mother disliked me as much as the father liked me. I found that Miss Laura loved the stage, had trained herself, indeed, to be an actress, and was only kept from going on the stage by the mother's insensate vanity and pride of birth. Naturally, I got them theatre tickets and soon became intimate. A month or so later the father wanted to spend Christmas at Brighton; nothing could have suited me better. I knew Brighton well, so early in the week we went down and stayed at the Albion Hotel. In the mornings we all used to go out walking, but the fat mother soon returned to the hotel with her husband, leaving Laura and myself to our own devices. Two incidents I remember of those first days: I had put some rhetoric into an article in the Spectator on Hendrik Conscience, the Belgian writer, and I read it to Laura 319

one afternoon. "You read wonderfully," she said, "and that prose is lovely. You're going to be a great writer!" I shook my head. "A good speaker, perhaps," I said, for already I thought of going into the House of Commons. I didn't believe that I had genius, but I felt sure I could make myself an excellent speaker, and naturally I confided my ambitions to her. She had risen, and as I rose and thrust the paper into my pocket, I repeated passionately the last words of the article. Her eyes were on a level with mine and I suppose the passion in my voice moved her, for her eyes gave themselves to me: the next moment my arms were around her and my lips on hers. She kissed me naturally, without shyness or reserve. I could not help thinking at once, "She has often given her lips; she's too good-looking to have been left unpursued." The thought gave me boldness. "How beautiful you are," I said putting my arm round her waist. She smiled but drew back a little. "You flatterer!" "No, no," I pursued; "not a taint of flattery; I'm so much in earnest that I'm absolutely truthful. Your figure is most beautiful: I love and admire small breasts, just as I admire and love large hips," and I put my hands again on her figure. "I love your word," she responded, "that you are 'so much in earnest that you are quite truthful,' deep love and truth always go together, don't they?" "Always," I replied. Her quick ears heard someone coming and she turned away, but the touches had thrilled me, and I could not forbear clasping her waist from behind. She wound herself out of my arms with infinite litheness and with pouting lips and frowning brows reproved my daring, but the finger on her mouth was a warning and her eyes were smiling: she was not really angry at all. The next minute her mother came in. The situation of the father and mother filled me with pity for the girl; I felt in my bones that the father in especial must have called on her sometimes to help pay the weekly bills. She had been trained in worldly wisdom, yet had kept her spiritual enthusiasms. Her difficulties, which I surmised, endeared her to me. On Christmas Eve we happened to be alone again in the sitting-room. After the first kiss I naturally kissed her whenever I had the chance, and under my kissing and caressing her lips grew hot. But she drew back almost at once. "How strangely you kiss," she said, her eyes thoughtful. 320

I loved her for her frankness and read it rightly, I think: she was still virgin, but on the point of yielding. I resolved to be worthy of her. "Laura, dear," I said, "I want to speak to you soul to soul. I love you and want you: give me six months or at most a year more and I shall have won a position in London and money. I've done a good deal in four months; I'll win completely in a year. Give me the year, will you, and I'll ask you to marry me!" "I love you," she replied, "and trust you. I'll wait, you can be sure," and we kissed again as a sort of consecration—indeed as lovers kiss, whose spirits flow together at meeting of the lips. The rest of those Christmas holidays can be told rapidly. I felt that Laura did not put much confidence in my assurances of splendid and rapid success. She had heard similar hopes expressed far too often by her father and had found them evaporate. I first heard the American word from her for such forecasts of hope, "hot air." How was she to know the difference between the gambler and the workman, whose self-confidence was rooted in many and widely different experiences? I resolved to get back to London as soon as possible, and up to the last day, with the optimism of first love, I hoped to meet Laura there almost every day. On the second of January I paid the hotel bill and was astonished by it; it took nearly all my nest-egg: Clapton had drunk champagne in his bedroom. But what did it matter? I had had the time of my life and a smile from Laura's lips; a glance of approval from her eyes meant more to me than a fortune. Just before lunch the father asked me to go out with him for a stroll. As soon as we were alone, he began by thanking me for the holiday. "I'd never have let you foot the bill," he began, "but I've had a long run of bad luck in this open stock exchange I founded in London. My partner, I find, has bolted in my absence and taken all the funds, but I only need just a small sum for expenses, a thousand '11 do—" I would not let him conclude; I wanted to spare him the humiliation of asking. I broke in at once, "I'd let you have it with a heart and a half if I had got it, but the truth is the holiday has brought me, too, to rock-bottom. I must go back and get to work, and I can't even get such a sum quickly. I say to you, as I've said to Laura, give me a year and I'll win." His look was enough; the splendid long hazel eyes were as hard as buttons. "Never mind," he said, "it doesn't matter." In ten minutes we were back in the hotel and I don't think I got ten words more from him that day. Evidently the father, too, thought me no prize. When we reached London I drove them first to Gower Street, but their rooms were not ready for them. The father saw the landlady and came down to us in 321

the hall and told us, with feigned indignation, that the hostess had not acted on his wire, but in a couple of hours their old rooms would be ready. "Mr. Harris will perhaps take care of you till then," he added. "I have to see—" The vagueness of the arrangements confirmed my suspicions of Clapton's irresponsibility and increased my sympathy with the queenly girl. Of course, I was only too glad to be of service. I drove the ladies first to my rooms to get rid of my luggage. Though I had not wired, my rooms were all ready, swept and garnished; and the mother and daughter came in and had tea and afterwards I took them to Kettners, a good Bohemian restaurant, for dinner. I left them at eleven o'clock in their rooms and got a long kiss from Laura in the passage; I felt well repaid. As soon as I was alone and rehearsed the happenings of the day, as was my custom, I saw I had no time to lose. "If you want the girl," I said to myself, "you'll have to win a position quickly." Clearly I felt that now both the father and the mother would be linked against me. They might, probably would, turn the cold shoulder and make it unpleasant for me even to call. Besides, I must not lose time and energy courting Laura; this was the determining thought: I must get to work at once and without encumbrance of any kind. That night I wrote to Laura fully, saying I would not see her for three months and telling her why: I would ask her to marry me within the year. She answered, saying she understood and would wait. My choice of her was so absolute that I took it for granted that she had chosen me with the same complete certitude. Yet I felt I must win as soon as possible and win big. Next morning I went down to Chapman, the publisher. What would he give me for a book on my experiences in western America as a cowboy, etc.? He listened to me and told me he might give £. 100. "But it's only because I know you," he added. "Usually we expect the author to help us in bringing out his first book." In half an hour I learned a good deal of the practice of publishing and found reason to echo Byron's caustic reply to Murray, who sent him a Bible instead of a check. Byron returned the book with one alteration. He had written in the word: "Now Barrabas was a 'publisher'," instead of the Biblical "robber." No hope of a fortune through a book. Five days in every week I spent now on this trail, now on that, but London business was better organized than business in the United States at that time and so again and again I found the hoped-for outlet was a blind alley. At length, after nearly a month of disappointments, I went down to the stock exchange and sought for a place as a clerk in a broker's office. I found that only one clerk in each office had the entree to the floor of the House, a privileged position again, to conquer which would cost at least a year's hard work. Besides, except the house of a German-Jew, not a single stockbroker seemed to want my services. But the Jew wanted many German letters written and I was more than willing to do them after hours; but the pay offered was only three pounds a week, and I stood hesitating. On my birthday, the fourteenth of February, I resolved to take Klein's offer and wrote to him that as soon as I had settled some business I'd be round, certainly within a week. 322

All this time I had been working steadily on the Spectator and growing there in influence. On each Saturday and Sunday I wrote two articles that always appeared; indeed, now I could control their position, for one day Hutton had taken me downstairs and introduced me to Meredith Townsend, his partner, saying that in the holidays, when he (Hutton) was away, he'd be glad if Townsend would use me in his (Hutton's) place. "He knows half a dozen languages," said Hutton, "and he corrects proofs as carefully as a born reader." Townsend assured me of his interest, and while Hutton was away I got a good deal of editorial work to do on the Spectator and came to know Townsend intimately. In many respects he was the complement of Hutton. He had spent many years in the East and knew China fairly well. As Hutton was profoundly religious, so Townsend cared chiefly for success. Hutton believed with all his soul and mind that mankind was growing in goodness and grace to some divine fulfilment. Townsend was certain that "man in the loomp was bad," as Tennyson's Northern Farmer had it, and must come to a bad end. But the two men together fairly filled the English ideal at once sentimental and practical, and so the paper came to power and influence and wealth, notwithstanding the fact that save for a smattering of French, neither editor knew anything of modern Europe or America, nor of modern art and literature. I was really needed by them, and had I started with them a year or two sooner, or continued a year or two longer, I might have brought it to a partnership and the paper to a wider success. But when Hutton wanted to know if twenty-five pounds would satisfy me for the extra editorial work I had done, I smiled and assured him his good word was all I wanted and that I was fully paid with the six pounds a week I made from my articles. I knew how to win, if I didn't know when I would win. However, my chance came, as always, at the last moment. One day I was in the Fortnightly office when Escott, coming up the stairs, met Chapman in the passage between their two rooms. After a word or two of greeting, Escott said loudly, "I think your protégé will get the editorship of the Evening News. I gave him a warm letter to Coleridge Kennard, the banker, who, I understand, foots all the bills." When he came into the room I had to report to him the results of a mission he had entrusted me with. The topic of the day was "The Housing of the Poor." Lord Salisbury had written an article in favour of the idea in The Nineteenth Century magazine, and Escott, egged on by Joseph Chamberlain, the Radical leader, had sent Archibald Forbes, the famous war correspondent, to Hatfield to report on what Lord Salisbury had done on his own estate for the rehousing of his poor. Forbes had sent in a most sensational report. He described houses in the village of Hatfield with vitriol in his pen instead of ink; one diningroom he pictured, I remember, where "feculent filth dripped on the table during meals." The whole paper was a savage attack on Salisbury and his selfish policy. It frightened Escott, and when I pointed out that the antithetical rhetoric really weakened Forbes's case, he asked me, "Would you go down to Hatfield and check Forbes's account," adding, "I have spoken 323

to Mr. Chamberlain about you and your articles in the Spectator and he hopes you'll undertake the job." Of course I went down to Hatfield at once with a proof of Forbes's article in my pocket. In the very first forenoon I found that the house where the "feculent filth dripped" didn't belong to Lord Salisbury at all, but to a leading Radical in the village. At the end of the day I was able to write that Forbes had only visited one house belonging to Lord Salisbury of the thirty he had described. I then called on Lord Salisbury's agent and told him I had been sent to ascertain the truth: "Would he give it to me?" Would he? He was a thorough-going admirer of Lord Salisbury, whom he described as probably the best landlord in England. "Lord Salisbury's not rich, you know," he began, "but as soon as he came into the title and property he went over every one of the six hundred houses on the estate: he found four hundred needed rebuilding; we decided that he could only afford to rebuild thirty a year. The same evening he wrote me that he could not accept rent for any of the four hundred houses we had condemned, and when the houses were rebuilt he would only take three per cent of the cost as rental. I'll show you one or two of the houses that are still to be rebuilt," he added. "I shouldn't mind living in them." I then showed him Archibald Forbes's paper, without disclosing the writer's name. "Lies," he cried indignantly, "all lies and vile libels. If only all noblemen acted to their tenants and dependents as Lord Salisbury does, there would not be a radical in England," and I half-agreed with him. Now I reported the whole investigation to Escott and he said, "You must tell Chamberlain about it: he'll be dreadfully disappointed for he had picked Forbes. But I am enormously obliged to you; you must let me pay your expenses, at any rate. I'll get it from Joseph," he added, laughing. "Shall we say twenty pounds?" "Say nothing," I replied, "but give me a letter recommending me for the editorship of the Evening News and we'll call it square." "With a heart and a half." cried Escott. "I'll give you the best I can write and a tip besides. Get Hutton of the Spectator to write too about your editorial qualities and see Lord Folkestone about the place, for though Kennard pays, Lord Folkestone is really the master. Kennard wants a baronetcy and Lord Folkestone can get it for him for the asking." Of course I acted on Escott's advice at once. Hutton gave me an excellent letter, declaring that he had used me editorially and hardly knew how to praise me as I deserved. The same evening I sent off all the letters. Two days after I got a note from Lord Folkestone, saying that Mr. Kennard was out of town, but if I'd meet him at 324

the office of the Evening News in Whitefriars Street in the morning, he'd show me round and we'd have a talk. Of course I accepted the invitation and left my letter within an hour at Lord Folkestone's house in Ennismore Gardens, then hastened off to Escott at once to find out all about Lord Folkestone. I found that as soon as his father died, he would be Earl of Radnor with a rentroll of at least £. 150,000 a year. "The eldest son's called Lord Folkestone by courtesy, for they own nearly the whole town and this Lord Folkestone married Henry Chaplin's sister. She's a great musician, has a band of her own made up of young ladies and her only daughter. Radnor is an old man and so Folkestone must soon enter into his kingdom; he's something in the Queen's household," and so forth and so on. I was soon to know him intimately. Coincidence has hardly played any part in my life; indeed, one incident about this time is the first occasion in my life when I could use the word. I was returning from Escott's house in Kensington when I asked the cabby to take me by the Strand and Lyceum Theatre, for I was greatly interested then in Irving's productions. As luck would have it, while I was looking at the advertisement, the people were going into the theatre, and, as I turned, a young man jumped out of a four-wheeler and then helped out Laura Clapton and her mother. He was in dress clothes but unmistakably American, thirty years of age perhaps, about middle height, broad and very good-looking. He was evidently much interested in Laura, for he went on talking to her even while helping her mother to alight, and Laura answered him with manifest sympathy. For a moment—just one wild impulse—I thought of confronting them; then a wave of pride surged over me. As she had not waited even three months, I would not interfere. I drew aside and saw them enter the theatre, rage in my heart. How far had the acquaintance gone? Not very far, but— Was Laura, too, that queen among women, a mere spoil of opportunity? Then I would live for my work and nothing else, But the disappointment was as bitter as death! 325

CHAPTER X. LORD FOLKESTONE AND THE EVENING NEWS; SIR CHARLES DILKE'S STORY AND HIS WIFE'S; EARL CAIRNS AND MISS FORTESCUE NEXT MORNING at ten o'clock I met Lord Folkestone in the offices of the Evening News: a tallish man, slight, very bald, with pointed, white goatee beard and moustache and kindly hazel eyes; handsome and lovable but not strong either in body, mind or character. I hope to insert a photo of him, for he was the first friend I made after Professor Smith; he had charming ways and was something more than a mere gentleman. He met me cordially; thought the commendation of Button extraordinary, and Escott's too. He had met Escott. "Shall we go over the building?" he proposed finally and took me into the machine room downstairs, where three antiquated machines had to be used to turn out thirty thousand copies in an hour. "Only ten thousand are needed," he smiled, thinking the machinery adequate, evidently ignorant of the fact that one Hoe machine would have been twice as efficient as the three at one-half the cost. Then we went up to the fourth floor, where thirty or thirty-five compositors worked to set up some three or four editions daily. After an hour of wandering about, we returned to the office where we had first met. "There can be no doubt about your qualifications," Lord Folkestone said, "but do you think you can make the paper pay? It is now losing £. 40,000 a year and Kennard, though rich and a banker, finds that a pull. What hope can you give him?" I don't know why, but he seemed to me so simple, so sincere, so kindly, that I made up my mind to tell him the whole truth, though it made against me. "My recommendations, Lord Folkestone," I said, "don't apply to this job at all. I have not the remotest idea how to make a daily paper a success; I've absolutely no experience of such a task. A business man is needed here, not a man of letters, but I've always been successful at whatever I took up, and if you give me the chance I'll make a horse that'll win the Derby or a paper that'll pay. What I ask is one month's experience and then I'll tell you the whole truth. I only beg you in the meantime not to give away my confession of ignorance and inexperience." "I like you the better for your frankness," he replied cordially, "and you'll have my vote, I can promise you, but Kennard must decide. I've heard that he'll be back tomorrow, so if it suits you, we can meet here tomorrow." And so it was settled. I found Coleridge Kennard a fussy little person who seemed very anxious to keep the paper strictly Conservative. Because it only cost a ha'penny, people thought it should be radical, but he wanted it to fight communism and all

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that nonsense: that's why he took it up. But if it couldn't be made to pay, of course he'd have to drop it ultimately. Nobody seemed to know how to make it pay: the advertisements were increasing, but the circulation didn't seem to budge. If instead of selling six or eight thousand a day it sold fifty thousand, the "ads" would come in and it would have to pay. What did I think I could do? "Give me the paper for one month, Mr. Kennard," I said, "and I'll tell you all about it." "What conditions?" he asked. "Your own," I replied. "I shall be perfectly content with whatever you and Lord Folkestone decide. I give you my word I shan't injure the paper." "Very handsome, I must say," said Kennard. "I think we should accept?" He turned in question to Lord Folkestone. "Surely," Lord Folkestone nodded, "and for the first time I think we have a chance of making the paper a Derby winner." In this spirit we shook hands and they introduced me to the heads of departments. The sub-editors seemed sulky and disappointed: the head machinist, a Scot, too independent; the book-keeper, a Mr. Humphrey, the husband of the brilliant writer, "Madge" of Truth, thoroughly kind and eager to help me. I told him before Kennard and Folkestone that I wished to make no changes for the first month; I'd study the field. As soon as the directors had left, Humphrey gave me the true truth on all points within his knowledge. He thought it nearly impossible to make a cheap Conservative paper pay. There was a manifest contradiction between policy and price; then the machines were worthless and Macdonald not much good and— Clearly my task would be a difficult one. The chief sub-editor, Abbott, put on a nonchalant air. "Had he any ideas as to how the paper could be made successful?" He did what he was told, he said, and that was all. I went home that night with the latest Evening News in my hand and the latest Echo, its Radical rival. The Echo had a policy, a strictly Liberal policy with less than nothing to offer the workman except cheap contempt for his superiors. My Conservative-Socialist policy must beat it out of the field. The news in both papers was simply taken from the morning papers and the agencies and was as bad in one paper as in the other. It was plain that certain news items should be rewritten and made, after the American fashion, into little stories. I hadn't found the way yet, but I would find it. The lethargy in the whole establishment was appalling. It took an hour to make the stereo-plates for the best machine and often the old rattletrap machine would stop running; 327

and when I went down and interviewed Macdonald, he told me he was the only man who could get the old tin-pot machine to work at all. The previous editor had never entered the machine-room. I spent an hour every day there and soon one workman struck me, six feet in height and splendidly made, with a strong face. Whenever the machine stopped, Tibbett seemed to know at once what was wrong. When I got him a moment alone I asked him to come to see me upstairs after his work. He came, it seemed to me, reluctantly; bit by bit, by praising him and showing confidence in him and not in Macdonald, he spoke plainly. "Macdonald has got Scotchmen to work in order to keep his berth; he's no good himself and they are like him. Twelve men in the machine-room; five could do the work and do it better," Tibbett declared. Ten pounds a week, I said to myself, instead of twenty-five, a good saving. I asked Tibbett if I discharged Macdonald and gave him the job whether he'd do it. He seemed reluctant; the cursed esprit de corps of the working man made him hesitate, but at length he said he'd do his best, but— but—. Finally he gave me the names of the four men he'd keep. Next morning I called in Macdonald and discharged him and his brother-inlaw together. I gave him a month's salary in lieu of notice, his brother-in-law two weeks, and left the others till the next Saturday. An hour later there was the devil's own row in the machine-room. The discharged Scots suspected that Tibbett had given the show away and began calling him names. He knocked them down one after the other and they called in the police and had Tibbett arrested for assault and battery. Next day I went to the Police Court and did my best for him, but the stupid magistrate accepted the doctor's statement that the elder Macdonald was seriously injured. His nose, it appeared, was broken, whereas it should only have been put out of joint, and he gave Tibbett a month. His wife was in court and in tears; I cheered her up by telling her I'd have him out in a week, and thanks to Lord Folkestone, who went to the Home Secretary for him, he was let out in the week with a fine of £. 20 instead of the month's imprisonment. At the end of the week, Tibbett came back and the machines went better than they had ever done. I gave each of his three workmen two pounds weekly and four to Tibbett and a new spirit of utmost endeavour reigned in the machine room. To cut a long story short, I got Tibbett to tell me who was the best man in the casting department—Maltby was his name, the best workman and the most inarticulate man I ever met. I reduced the expenses there two-thirds, saving another fifteen pounds a week and increasing the efficiency incredibly. At once the time occupied in casting plates for one machine fell from an hour to the best American time of twenty minutes, but Maltby gradually reduced it to twelve minutes with astonishing results, as I shall soon relate. I began to get lessons on all sides. The war in Egypt was on and one morning, hearing a good deal of noise, I went into the great outer office where the 328

newsboys had assembled for the first edition. They talked loudly and seemed discontented, so I went in among them and asked one for his opinion. "There's a bloody bill!" cried the youngster disdainfully. He couldn't have been more than twelve, shoving the Evening News contents bill in my face. "A bloody bill; how do you expect us to sell papers on that?" "What's wrong with it?" I asked. "Nothing right!" was the reply. "Hain't there been a battle and great slaughter? Look at this Daily Telegraph bill. There's a real bill for ye; that'll sell paipers! Ours won't!" Of course I saw the difference at once, so I took the boy critic and a friend of his into my office and with the paper before us sat down to get out a new and sensational bill. Then I sent for the chief sub-editor, Abbott, and showed him the difference. To my amazement he defended his quiet bill. "It's a Conservative paper," he said, "and doesn't shout at you." The boy critic giggled. "You come out to sell paipers," he cried, "and you'll soon hev' to shout!" The end of it was that I gave the boy ten shillings and five to his friend and made them promise to come to me each week with the bills, good and bad. Those kids taught me what the London hapenny public wanted and I went home laughing at my own high-brow notions. The ordinary English public did not want thoughts but sensations. I had begun to edit the paper with the best in me at twenty-eight; I went back in my life, and when I edited it as a boy of fourteen I began to succeed. My obsessions then were kissing and fighting: when I got one or other or both of these interests into every column, the circulation of the paper increased steadily. I was awakened every morning at seven with breakfast and the papers: I could hardly get up earlier, as the milk did not come till seven. One morning my Telegraph told me that there had really been a battle in Egypt and of course the English had won. While driving to the office I cut out and arranged the account in The Telegraph and bettered it here and there with reports taken from the Daily Chronicle and The Times. I was at the office before eight, but no sub-editors came till nearly nine. That didn't matter so much, but the compositors only began to drift in at eight-fifteen. At once I set them to work and by nine I had put the whole paper together, with one short leading article instead of two long ones, and a good bill. The first edition sold over ten thousand; I told the sub-editors not to be caught napping again and informed the printers that they had all to be present at eight sharp. They promised willingly. My boy critic was on the job 329

and congratulated me and gave me, incidentally, a new idea. "Some days," he said, "the news of a victory comes into the Telegraph between four in the morning, when they go to press, and ten, and then they bring out a speshul edition. My brother works on the Telegraph; he's a compositor and he'd give me the first pull of any speshul stuff and I could bring it to you. If your paiper is ready, you could taike the news and be out almost as soon as the Telegraph. Then you'd sell; oh my! 'twould be a holy lark!" I fell in with the idea, told him he should have a sovereign to share with his brother every time he succeeded, and gave him my address: he was to come for me in a cab whenever he got such news. By extra pay I induced three "comps" to come in at six in the morning, and downstairs Maltby and his assistant and Tibbett and his brother were always on hand at the same hour. One morning the little imp came for me. In half an hour I was in the office and had given the report of a big battle from the Telegraph word for word to the comps. They worked like fiends; indeed, the spirit was such that the comp who ought to have gone downstairs with the news called to his two chums to tail on to the rope and jumped into the letter-lift, which would have practically fallen five stories had not the chums clung on to the pulleys at the cost of bleeding fingers. In ten minutes, the Evening News was selling on the street, and, as it happened, selling before the Telegraph's special edition. We could have sold hundreds of thousands, had the old machines been able to turn them out. As it was, we sold forty or fifty thousand and Fleet Street learned that a new evening paper was on the job. About noon that day I had a visitor, Mr. Levi Lawson, owner of the Telegraph, a little, fat, rubicund Jew of fifty or sixty, fuming with anger that his thunder had been stolen. I soon saw that he only suspected that we were out before him, for he informed me that I must never reproduce more than 30 per cent of a Telegraph article, even when I published the fact that the account was taken from their columns and gave them full credit. I showed him that I had stated in my preliminary story that the Telegraph correspondent was usually the best. That seemed to appease him, and as I knew my zeal had led me too far, I told him that I always meant to give the original purveyor of the news twenty minutes' start. Just as Lawson was going out, conciliated, in came Lord Folkestone. I introduced Lawson to him and Lawson told him the story, adding, "You've a smart editor in this American; he'll do something." When Folkestone heard the whole story and how the "comp" had risked his life in his eagerness to save half a minute, he had the men up and thanked them and took me off to lunch, saying I must tell the whole story to Lady Folkestone. He confided to me on the way that Lady Folkestone couldn't stand Ken-nard: "He's not very kindly, you know!" Lady Folkestone at that time was a large lady of forty-odd, who was as kind and wise as she was big. Henry Chaplin, her brother, the Squire of 330

Lincolnshire, as he was called, was one of those extraordinary characters that only England can produce. Had he been educated, he would have been a great man; he was spoiled by having inherited a great position and fifty or sixty thousand pounds a year. He was handsome, too, tall and largely built, with a leonine aspect. Everyone in the eighties told you how he had fallen desperately in love with a pretty girl, who on the eve of marriage ran away with the Marquis of Hastings. Chaplin at once went on the turf in opposition to the Marquis; a few years later he got a great horse in Hermit, who burst a blood vessel ten days before the Derby. The Marquis plunged against Hermit: for the first time the Derby was run in a snow storm (God's providence coming in to help righteous indignation) and Hermit won. On settling day the Marquis blew his brains out, or what stood for them, and Chaplin was vindicated. I don't know what became of the lady, but Chaplin went into the House of Commons and soon developed an ore rotunda style of rhetoric that sometimes deformed a really keen understanding of life. I knew him as a most lavish spender; he used to order special trains to take his guests to his country house, and his claret was as wonderful as his Comet port. He had read a good deal, too, but he had never forced himself to read anything that did not appeal to him, and so he was far too self-centred in opinion, with curious lacunae of astounding ignorance. An Englishman through and through, with all the open-handed instincts of a conquering and successful race, and with a deep-rooted love of fair play and surface sentimentalities of all sorts that no one could explain, such as the English taste in men's dress and a genuine indifference to every other art. I have said a lot about Henry Chaplin because his sister was curiously like him in essentials, as generous-kindly and sweet-minded as possible, with at bottom an immense satisfaction in her privileged position. She loved music genuinely, yet when I talked of Wagner's astonishing genius, she seemed to have absolutely no comprehension of it. Her daughter was tall and pretty, the son, too, a fine specimen so far as looks went, but with no conception of what I had begun to call to myself the first duty, which consists in developing the mind as harmoniously as the body. Such self-development increases one's power enormously, but is as easy and dangerous to overdo as it is easy and dangerous to overdevelop a muscle. English society I learned to know through the unvarying kindness of the Folkestones: it struck me as superficial always and of the Middle Ages in its continual reference to a Christian, or rather a Pauline, standard of morals, which sat oddly on a vigorous, manly race. When my month was up I was able to show that I had increased the efficiency of the Evening News staff and had saved to boot some five thousand pounds yearly of expenses, while adding nearly as much to the revenue. 331

Thereupon the directors engaged me for three years as managing director at a salary of a thousand pounds a year and expenses, with a proviso that if I made the paper pay in the time, I should have a fifth of the net profits and an engagement for ten years, or for life, as Kennard suggested. At once I felt I had won. I could marry now or just go on with the work: why didn't I seek out Laura and marry her? Simply because I had seen her twice at different theatres with the same sturdy, handsome American. The last time, coming out behind her mother, he had taken hold of her bare arm and she had rewarded his lover-like gesture with that smiling gift of herself I knew so well and valued so highly. No, I was not jealous, I said to myself, but I was in no hurry to put my head in the noose. So I worked with all my might at the paper and went out in the evenings. Folkestone had taken me to Poole's, his tailor's, and I was fairly well turned out. I was not a society favorite but already excited some interest, due chiefly to Folkestone's chivalrous backing. I don't remember exactly how I came to know Arthur Walter of The Times, but we soon became great friends and I spent half my summers at his country house near Finchampstead. Mrs. Walter, too, took me up and was very kind to me, and I came to regard the whole household with real affection. Already I could tell them stories of a London life they knew little or nothing about, the life of the coulisses. Sir Charles Dilke I got to know intimately through the paper and I may as well tell the story here, for he made me know Chamberlain and the Radical party with fruitful consequences. A Mr. Crawford, f a man of some position, suddenly filed a petition for divorce and named the Radical baronet, Sir Charles Dilke, as co-respondent. To my astonishment, the mere accusation was like an earthquake: London talked of nothing else. Folkestone gave me the aristocratic view. "Dilke," he said, "was known as a loose fish. The scandal would ruin him with his constituents, but nobody in society would think any the worse of him." I saw the chance of a journalistic sensation, so I wrote to Dilke at once, saying that if I could do him any good, the Evening News would help him to put his case properly before the public. At once he replied, begging me to come to see him in his house in Sloane Street. He met me there next morning with outstretched hands. "Your belief in my innocence," he began, "has been the greatest encouragement to me." "Good God!" I cried. "Innocent! Like everyone else I thought you guilty; it's the politician I came to help, not the innocent." At once he smiled, "We can talk then without affectation," and we did. I soon discovered that he took the whole thing far more seriously than I did or than Lord Folkestone. "A verdict against me means rum to my career in Parliament," he declared. 332

"But the great Duke of Wellington," I objected, "wrote to Fanny who threatened to publish his letters: 'Dear Fanny, publish and be damned.'" "An aristocratic society then," replied Dilke, "rather enjoyed a scandal; today the middle classes rule, and adultery to them is as bad as murder." "Let's make fun of the whole thing," I proposed, "and so lighten the consequences." "Very kind of you," replied Dilke. "It may help, but it won't save me." In the next weeks I got to know Dilke well. He was one of the few men I met in London who knew French thoroughly and could speak it as a Frenchman with fluency and a perfect accent, but in spite of this advantage, he knew very little of French literature or art. He lived in politics, and though hardworking, he was not well read, even in English, and anything but brilliant. From time to time I met at his house all sorts of people like Jusserand, now French ambassador at Washington, and Harold Frederic, the brilliant American journalist and writer, and Edward Grey, Dilke's understudy as a minister for foreign affairs; Rhoda Broughton, too, the novelist and a host of others. For Dilke was a rich man with many intellectual interests and a tinge as I have said, of French culture. He had inherited not only the Athenaeum journal from his father, but also miniatures of Keats that I esteemed more highly. This admiration of mine astonished him and he was good enough to offer me a beautiful specimen. "If you would let me give you something for it—" I hesitated. "What would it be worth?" he asked. "I'd give you a hundred pounds willingly," I replied. "Is it worth as much as that?" he exclaimed. "If I had it, I'd not take a thousand for it," I cried. "Really!" he said, but no longer pressed it on me, for Dilke was anything but generous. The great question for Dilke in the divorce case was, should he go into the witness box and deny the adultery or not. He never discussed it with me till the trial was on; then at noon one day he called at my office and put the matter before me. Naturally I told him that he must go into the box and deny it. Any gentleman would have to do that for a lady, even if the liaison had been so notorious that his denial would only cause a smile. Thereupon Dilke told me that he had talked the matter over with Joseph Chamberlain in a room in the Law Courts and that Chamberlain had insisted that he mustn't go into the box. 333

"Dilke," I cried, "it is surely worse than foolish to go to your rival for advice. Chamberlain and Dilke are the two Radical leaders. Fancy Dilke accepting Chamberlain's counsel." Dilke hemmed and hawed and beat about the bush, but at last confessed. "You see," he said, "my name was often coupled with the name of Mrs. Crawford's mother when I was young in London, and people might be horrified at the idea that I would corrupt my own daughter." "Good God!" I cried. "That does complicate the affair. But no English judge would allow any question, even in cross-examination, that would tend to discover such a pot of roses." "It doesn't horrify you?" asked Dilke. "I thought Chamberlain would have a fit when I told him." "I wouldn't have told him," I said. "But do you think she is your daughter? Is there any likeness, or attraction?" "No nothing," he replied. "The Greeks, you know, thought nothing of incest. Some indeed say that the highest type of Greek beauty was evolved through the father going with the daughter, the brother with the sister—" "We can discuss that another time," I said, "and I would like to, because I have some strange facts on it. The consanguinity is supposed to produce greater beauty, but certainly less strength and less intellect; but now I can only beg you to go into the box. If you don't, Stead and the other Radical journalists will get after you and declare that your abstention is a proof of your guilt. It is probable, too, that the judge will express the same opinion and then the fat would be in the fire. The nonconformist conscience would get on its hind legs and howl." Everyone remembers that in spite of my good advice, which I urged with all my power, Dilke funked the witness box, let the case go by default against him, and the judge said that his abstention must be taken as a confession: "Every gentleman would repel such an accusation with horror." Yet this righteous judge had heard Mrs. Crawford in the witness box declare that Dilke insisted on bringing a Mrs. Rogerson to their bed when she was in it, "And Mrs. Rogerson," she added, "was an old woman and Dilke's old flame!" British prudery pretended not to know what this second string to Dilke's bow could possibly mean, but in the best class of society the matter was fully discussed. While I was defending Dilke as well as I could, John Corlett of the Pink 'Un', the London paper distinguished for its free speech, came to me and said, "You know Dilke and all about this case of Crawford." I admitted that I knew a good deal about it. "Can't you do something funny on it for me? You know we can sail near the wind, but mustn't make the sails shiver." 334

An idea came into my head and I gave it to Corlett. "Put in any comment about the case you like," I said, "and then sketch a little palette bed in the simplest of small bedrooms, because that is where Dilke assures me that he sleeps. Put two pillows on the bolster and leave the sketch for the first week with the caption, 'An Exact Reproduction of Sir Charles Dilke's Bedroom!'" "That won't set the Thames on fire," said Corlett. "Still, the idea has a little piquancy." "But think what you would be able to do next week," I said, "when you put in great letters that you made one mistake in the picture of Dilke's bedroom last week, that you are happy to be able to rectify it this week. Then reproduce the picture again exactly, putting, however, three pillows on the bolster instead of two." "I will send you fifty quid for that," said Corlett. "That's the best thing I've heard for a h—1 of a while." And he kept his word. I always liked John Corlett. There was no nonsense about him, and he was a first-rate paymaster. One quality Sir Charles Dilke had of greatness, a quality rare even in England and almost unknown among American politicians: he judged men with astounding impartiality. He knew the House of Commons better than anyone I ever met, with the solitary exception of Lord Hartington, and I was a fairly good judge of this accomplishment, for from the moment I became editor of the Evening News, I began to go to the House of Commons three or four times a week and listen to all the debates from the "Distinguished Strangers' Gallery." There and in the lobbies I met all sorts and conditions of men from Captain O'Shea and Biggar to Mr. Parnell and Count Herbert Bismarck. One incident about Dilke I must not forget to relate. As soon as the result of his trial was made known, Mrs. Mark Pattison, the widow of the famous rector of Lincoln College, Oxford, cabled to him from India, "I believe in your complete innocence and am returning to marry you at once." This recalls a story that was hatched in Oxford, I believe, about Mark Pattison, the famous Grecian and his pretty young blonde wife, who had surrounded herself with a band of young Fellows and scholars, which seemed at variance with the pedantic tone of the elderly head. One day an old friend found Pattison walking in the college garden, lost in thought. "I hope I'm not interrupting," he said, after vainly trying to interest the Rector. "No, no! my dear fellow," replied Pattison, "but I have ground for thought. My wife tells me that she thinks she's enceinte," and he pursed out his lips in selfsatisfaction. "Good God." cried the friend, "whom do you suspect?" 335

When we read Mrs. Pattison's cable in the morning paper, Folkestone exclaimed, "Really, I begin to feel sorry for Dilke; his sins are finding him out," and Harold Frederic's word was much the same: "A bos bleu on a rake will be something novel even in London." I never liked Lady Dilke. She was a woman of forty-odd when I first met her, an ordinary stout, short blonde with brown hair, blue eyes, commonplace features and complexion, who was always a pedant—indeed the only bluestocking I ever met in England. I may give one typical instance of her pedantry and so leave her to rest. When I had made some reputation as a Shakespeare scholar and had declined her invitations for years and years, she wrote to me once, telling me that the French diplomat, M. Jusserand, was a great Shakespearean authority whom I really ought to meet; and "who wishes to meet you," she added. "Won't you therefore dine with us on the— and meet him? Please come at seven and then you can have an hour together before dinner." I wrote thanking her and turned up at seven sharp; I was eager to see if any Frenchman knew anything at first hand of Shakespeare. Lady Dilke introduced me at once to M. Jusserand in the little off-drawing-room on the first floor and said, "Now I'll leave you two sommites of learning to talk and straighten out all difficulties, for you both believe, I think, that Shakespeare was Shakespeare and not Bacon, though I remember once—," and the garrulous lady started off on a long story of how she had once met a Baconian at Lincoln College, "whom even my husband had to respect and this is how he approached the great question—" Jusserand and I looked at each other and listened with courteous, patient inattention; the lady went on for the whole hour and the dinner-bell found us still listening, neither of us having got in a single word edgeways. To this day I know nothing of Jusserand's views. From his marriage on, Dilke and I used to lunch together once a week, now in this restaurant, now in that, for many a year, and nine-tenths of what I learned about the House of Commons and English politicians came from him. In fact, it was he who showed me the best side of English Puritanism, its appreciation of conduct and strict observance of all obligations. I always preferred the aristocrat view, at once more generous and looser; but the middle-class semi-religious outlook is perhaps more characteristically English, for it has propagated itself almost exclusively all over the United States and the British colonies. Dilke taught me where Dickens got his Gradgrind, the master of facts, "the German paste in the Englishman," I called it. Dilke was well informed in politics and worked up all his speeches in the House with meticulous care. But though he spoke monotonously and without a thrill of any kind, Gladstone, some time before the Crawford divorce case, had solemnly selected Dilke to follow him in the Liberal leadership. Laborious learning is 336

esteemed in England beyond even genius, altogether beyond its value. This is what Goethe meant, I believe, when he spoke of the English as "pedants." One evening at dinner Dilke corrected Harold Frederic in a little unimportant fact. For some reason or other, Frederic had asserted that only about half the inhabitants of Salt Lake City were Mormons. At once Dilke corrected him: "Ninety per cent, my dear Frederic, and eighty per cent communicants." Harold looked his disgust but said nothing. Afterwards, going home together, he expatiated on this tic of Dilke's and arranged with me to catch him. Harold was to get up the number of Copts in Lower Egypt; of course Dilke would pretend to have the figures at his fingers' ends and Frederic would bowl him out. For my part I was charged to find out the number of Boers in the Transvaal in comparison with men of other nationalities, and accordingly I got up the figures. At our next dinner in Sloane Street I turned the talk on Cairo and said how surprised I was at the number of different nationalities there were in that strange land. "I met Copts by the score," I said; at once Dilke fell into the trap. "Surely," he said, "the Copts in Cairo don't number more than a few hundreds." "What do you think, Frederic?" I asked across the table, to get the proper audience. "Copts in Cairo," repeated Frederic. "You can hardly be serious, Dilke; there are some eleven thousand of them." Dilke was nonplussed. "Really, eleven thousand," he kept repeating; "Copts? Really?" He was evidently shocked by the correction. A few minutes later he committed himself to the statement that there were comparatively few Boers in Johannesburg and thus fell into my hands. I never saw a man so taken aback; accuracy was his fetish and to have it desert him twice in one evening was too much for his equanimity. I mention these things just to set off a racial peculiarity of the Englishman which, I'm sorry to say, is showing itself almost as prominently in the American, though, I am glad to believe, without the intolerable presumption of the Englishman that knowledge and wisdom are synonymous. In my first year in the Evening News I learned and practiced nearly every journalistic trick. When the annual boat race between Oxford and Cambridge was about to be decided, I found out that the experts usually knew which crew would win. Of course sometimes they are mistaken, but very rarely, and this year they all agreed it was a foregone conclusion for Oxford. Accordingly, on the great morning I had fifty thousand papers printed with "Oxford won" in big letters under the latest preliminary reports 337

of the training, etc. As soon as the telephone message came through that Oxford had won, I let the boys out and this start enabled me to sell all the fifty thousand papers. I did the same thing with race after race on the turf and soon it began to be known that the Evening News had the earliest news of the races. I only mention these things to show that I was really working at high pressure day in, day out. Time and again, luck favoured me. One morning the announcement came in that the marriage between Lord Garmoyle and Miss May Fortescue had been broken off and that the lady was suing for breach of promise. Within ten minutes I had got her address and was off in a hansom to interview her. I found her a very pretty and very intelligent girl who blamed the whole fiasco upon Earl Cairns, one of the Conservative leaders, who was the father of Lord Garmoyle and naturally enough did not wish his only son to marry an undistinguished actress. I gathered from Miss Fortescue that Cairns was a North of Ireland man, a great lawyer, but very religious and prudish, one who still spoke of Sunday as the Sabbath and thought the stage the antechamber of hell. When Miss Fortescue saw that I meant to fight for her, she gave me letters both of Lord Cairns and Lord Garmoyle that were very interesting and confessed to me that though she "cared for" Lord Garmoyle, she had put the damages for the breach of promise at ten thousand pounds "because his father will have to pay." I wrote a two-column article at once, telling the whole story under the title "Beauty and the Peer," exciting all the sympathy possible for Miss Fortescue and throwing all the odium on Earl Cairns. The article caused a tremendous sensation. That a Conservative paper should have printed such an attack upon a Conservative peer and leader was unheard of. Kennard happened to be in Brighton, but he was told about the article within a couple of hours of its appearance and at once wired to me to stop publishing the story, which he characterized as "obscene!" I went to Lord Folkestone for support and found that he was merely amused. He didn't like Cairns, thought him narrow and bigoted, and encouraged me to go on, while promising to smooth down Kennard's ruffled plumage. Accordingly, I kept on and had a second article next day still more sarcastic. To cut a long story short, Lord Cairns couldn't stand the contemptuous exposure, so paid the ten thousand pounds of damages demanded, and everyone, including Miss Fortescue, gave me and the Evening News credit for the victory. This journalistic triumph doubled the circulation of the paper, increased its advertisements considerably and so gave us all a foretaste of success. I cleaned out the sub-editors' room and put friends of my own in place of the hacks, notably an Australian Irishman named Dr. Rubie; turned out the old leader-writers too and gave their work to Cluer and other friends. The whole place was soon abuzz with life and vigour. 338

But I had some rebuffs. The office of the St. James Gazette was just opposite our office in Whitefriars Street, and when I went out at noon I used to see a dozen of their carts drawn up on one side of the street, while our fifteen or twenty carts were drawn up on the other side—all alike waiting to get the papers and hurry off to distribute them to the various shops all over London. I went into the matter and found that we were paying some six thousand pounds a year for our carts. At once I got an introduction to Greenwood, the editor of the St. James's, and offered to give his paper, which cost a penny, the benefit of our very much larger distribution at about half of that his carts cost him. To my astonishment he refused and stuck to his refusal, though it was plainly stupid. Three years afterwards, when my first stories came out in the Fortnightly Review, Greenwood praised them to the skies, and very ingenuously admitted that he had had a prejudice against me because he had heard me called an "American business man" and now regretted his hostility. We became in fact very good friends, and long before he died I grew to esteem and love the man. Lord Folkestone often got me to call for him at the Carlton Club and there one day he told me a couple of jokes about club life that seemed to me to be amusing. The Carlton Club, as everybody knows, is the official club of the Conservative party, and one day an influential member, recently joined, put up on the notice board a request that the nobleman who had stolen his umbrella would kindly return it immediately. After this notice had been up a week or so, an irascible nobleman went to the secretary and drew his attention to it. "It is a libel on our order," he said, "and I insist that the name of the nobleman should be given or the notice should be taken down." Hereupon the secretary went and interviewed the member who had put up the notice. "I don't know his name," said the member. "Why then do you think it is a nobleman?" asked the secretary. "Well, this club, according to your own statement, is made up of noblemen and gentlemen. No gentleman would steal my umbrella, so it must be a nobleman." And here is a story of the Athenaeum Club, which in its own way is almost as amusing. The Athenaeum possessed for many years a famous and polite porter, named, I think, Courtney, who could identify hats, umbrellas and walking sticks belonging to members, and was never known to make a mistake. One day a dignified Bishop on his way out was duly handed his things by the janitor. "This umbrella does not belong to me, Courtney," said the right reverend prelate. 339

"Possible not, my Lord," replied Courtney, "but it is the one you brought into the club." Such stories as these abound in London and give a special, distinctive flavour to life in England, and for that reason I shall reproduce some of the best, not forgetting those coined in New York. 340

CHAPTER XI. LONDON LIFE AND HUMOR; BURNAND AND MARX ... O thou wondrous Mother-age Make me feel the wild pulsation that I felt before the strife When I heard my days before me and the tumult of my life. LONDON IN THE EARLY eighties; London after years of solitary study and grim relentless effort; London when you are twenty-eight and have already won a place in its life; London when your mantelpiece has ten times as many invitations as you can accept, and there are two or three pretty girls that attract you; London when everyone you meet is courteous-kind and people of importance are beginning to speak about you; London with the foretaste of success in your mouth while your eyes are open wide to its myriad novelties and wonders; London with its round of receptions and court life, its theatres and shows, its amusements for the body, mind and soul: enchanting hours at a burlesque, prolonged by a boxing-match at the Sporting Club; or an evening in Parliament, where world-famous men discuss important policies; or a quiet morning spent with a poet who will live in English literature with Keats and Shakespeare; or an afternoon with pictures of a master already consecrated by fame. London: who could give even an idea of its varied delights: London the centre of civilization, the queen city of the world without a peer in the multitude of its attractions, as superior to Paris as Paris is to New York. If you have never been intoxicated you have never lived. I have felt myself made better and happier by exquisite wine, keyed up, so to speak, to a more vivid and higher spiritual life, talking better than I ever talked before, with an intensified passion that lit all the eyes about me and set souls aflame. But the rapture of such heightened life is only momentary. London made me drunk for years and in memory still the magic of those first years ennobles life for me; and the later pains and sufferings, wrongs and insults, disdains and disappointments, all vanish and are forgotten. I wonder if I can give an idea of what London was to me with the first draught of its intoxicating vintage on my hot lips and the perfumes of it in my greedy nostrils. It's impossible to describe such a variety of attractions, but I'll try, reminding my readers merely that it was my ambition to touch life on many sides. I had never heard of Frank Burnand, but one night I dropped in to see his burlesque of Blue Beard. The play was worse than absurd, incredibly trivial. Mr. Burnand's hero keeps a note book for jotting down the names and addresses of interesting young women; otherwise he is not much of a monster. His mysterious Blue Chamber contains nothing more terrible than hair-dyes. He is a beardless lad of one-and-twenty; has, however, a blue lock to show; but it's a fraud. His wife and his father-in-law are to lose their heads for discovering his secret; the catastrophe is averted by the timely arrival of troops of young ladies in fantastic martial costumes that reveal most shapely figures.

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The dancing and singing, and above all the astonishing plastic beauty of the chorus girls, gave me a foretaste of London, for in Paris the chorus women were usually hags. Miss Nelly Farren is the Baron Abomelique de Barbe Bleue and Miss Vaughan, Kate Vaughan is Lili, the Baron's bride. Here is the first verse of her song in the second act: French language is a bother, To learn it I don't care, Don't like to hear my mother Called by the French a mere. I like a husband to myself But the dear one is my cher Though I've only got one father Yet they swear he is a pere. Then Kate danced as no one ever danced before or since, with inimitable grace, and the way she picks up her dress and shows dainty ankles and hint of lovely limbs is a poem in itself; and all about her beautiful, smiling girls, in costumes that reveal every charm, sway or turn or dance, as if inspired by her delightful gaiety. In another scene she imitates Sarah Bernhardt and there is infinite humour in her piquant caricature; some one else mimics Irving, and all this in a rain of the most terrible puns and verbal acrobatics ever heard on any stage—an unforgettable evening which made me put Burnand down as one of the men I must get to know as soon as possible, for he was evidently a force to count with, a verbal contortionist, at least, of most extraordinary agility. I will give one proof of his quality from my memories of ten years or so later, just to give handsome little Frank his proper standing, for he was as kindly pleasant as he was good-looking and witty, and that's saying a good deal. In the London New York Herald, a weekly paper, there had appeared the story of Lord Euston's arrest, so detailed that it was almost as libellous as the account in the Star, the ha' penny Radical evening paper, of which Ernest Parke was the editor. I knew Euston pretty well and he had told me that he meant to make it "hot" for anyone who traduced him. He was a big, wellmade fellow of perhaps thirty, some six feet in height and decidedly manlylooking, the last person in the world to be suspected of any abnormal propensities. The story in the Star was detailed and libellous: Lord Euston was said to have gone in an ill-famed house in the West Central district; and the account in the Sunday Herald was just as damning. On the Monday following, Burnand came to lunch with me in Park Lane and by chance another guest was the Reverend John Verschoyle, whose talent for literature I have already described. 342

For some reason or other Verschoyle at table had condemned those who married their deceased wife's sister, evidently ignorant of the fact that Burnand had committed this offence against English convention. A little later, after the ladies had left the table, Verschoyle brought the conversation on the article in the New York Herald about Lord Euston; he was positive that a Sunday paper, by even mentioning such an affair, had killed itself in London. Burnand remarked, smiling, that he could not agree with such a verdict; surely it was the function of a newspaper to publish "news," and everyone was talking of this incident. But Verschoyle, purity-mad, stuck to his guns. "How could you explain such an 'incident'," he insisted, "to your wife or daughter, if she asked you what it was all about?" "Very easily," retorted Burnand, still smiling, but with keen antagonism in his sharp enunciation; "I'd say: 'my dear, Lord Euston feels himself above the ordinary law, and having nothing better to do, went to this notorious gambling house to play. He thought the game was going to be poker, but when he found it was baccarat he came away.' " No wittier explanation could be imagined; even Verschoyle had to try to smile. Curiously enough, in the libel action which Lord Euston brought against the Star newspaper, and which resulted in the condemnation of Ernest Parke, the editor, to a year's imprisonment, the explanation of Lord Euston was something like Burnand's excuse for him. He said that someone in the street had given him a card with poses plastiques on it; as he was at a loose end that night, he went to the address indicated. When he found that there were no poses plastiques, he came away. One may say that burlesques and wit like Burnand's could also be found in Paris, but the comic humour, plus the physical beauty of the chorus girls, were not to be found there, nor the tragedy. Ernest Parke was a convinced Radical and a man of high character, yet he was sentenced to a year's imprisonment for reproducing, so he told me, a police inspector's statement, and one which in any case did Lord Euston no harm at all. Yet no one in London expostulated or thought of criticizing the judge, though it seemed to me an infamous and vindictive sentence only possible in England. The preposterous penalty discovers a weak and bad side of the aristocratic constitution of English society. The judges almost all come from the upper middle class and invariably, in my experience, toady to aristocratic sentiment. Every judge's wife wants to be a Lady (with a capital, please, printer!), and her husband as a rule gets ennobled the quicker the more he contrives to please his superiors in the hierarchy. If Lord Euston had been Mr. Euston of Clerkenwell, his libeller would have been given a small fine, but not imprisoned, though the imputation even of ordinary immorality would have injured him in purse and public esteem grievously, whereas it could not damage Lord Euston in any way. And now for a contrast. 343

It was early in the eighties—I know it was a cold, windy day—that I went up to Haverstock Hill to call upon Dr. Karl Marx at his modest home in Maitland Park Road. We had met some time before, after one of Hyndman's meetings, and were more or less friends. Hyndman had contradicted something I had said, and when I quoted Engels as on my side, he told me that he knew Engels and spoke German as well as English. Seeing that a large part of the audience was German, I challenged him to reply to me and began speaking in German. When the meeting was over a German came up and congratulated me and asked me would I like to know Karl Marx? I replied that nothing would give me greater pleasure and he took me out and introduced me to the famous doctor. He was by no means so famous then as he is now forty years later, though he well deserved to be. I had read Das Kapital some years before. The first book, indeed, all the theoretical part, seemed to be brain-cobwebs loosely spun; but the second book and the whole criticism of the English factory system was one of the most relentless and convincing indictments I had ever seen in print. No one who ignores it should be listened to on social questions. When I had absorbed it, I sent for Marx's other books, A Life of Lord Palmerston and Revelations of the Diplomatic History of the Eighteenth Century. The Palmerston is written by one who had no feeling for character: the hero, an Irishman alive to his finger-tips, is buried under an erudition that prevents one seeing the forest for the trees; but the Revelations contain the best picture extant of the progress of Russia from the time she threw off the Tartar yoke to the latter half of the eighteenth century. In person Marx was broad and short, but strong with a massive head, all framed in white hair; the eyes were still bright blue, by turns thoughtful, meditative and quick-glancing, sharply curious. My German astonished him; where had I got the fluency and the rhetoric? Talking of religious belief, I had said that der Lauf des menschlichen Gedanker-ganges ist filr mich die einzige Offenbarung Gotten (the course of the progress of human thought is to me the only revelation of God). "Wunderbar! echt Deutsch!" Marx exclaimed (peculiarly German), which was the highest form of praise to a German of that time. He met me with critical courtesy, evidently surprised that an Englishman should have read not only Das Kapital, but all his contributions to periodicals. I told him I thought his book on the English factory system the most important work on sociology since The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith: on the one hand the advocate of socialism, on the other the individualist, while both forces, I thought, must meet in life and an equilibrium between them must be established. Marx smiled at me, but didn't even attempt to consider the new idea. He made much the same impression on me that Herbert Spencer made twenty years later, but Spencer was contemptuous-angry under contradiction, whereas Karl Marx was inattentively courteous. But both had shut themselves off from hearing anything against his pet theory, one-sided though it was. And just as Herbert Spencer was worth listening to on everything but "the field I've made my own," so was Karl Marx. He was the first to tell me how the French 344

bourgeoisie had massacred thirty thousand communists in Paris in cold blood after the defeat of 1870; but he condemned this bloodshed just as passionately as he condemned the strain of brutality in the anarchist Bakounin. His deep human pity and sympathy were the best of him, the heart better than the head—and wiser. Much in the same way, Spencer saw that savagery in man was developed and perpetuated in the standing armies of Europe, though wholly at variance with the spirit of forgiveness preached from a thousand pulpits. Marx and Spencer, like Carlyle and Ruskin, were of the race of Polyphemus—one-eyed giants; but the latter pair were artists to boot! Another contrast. It was about this time that I first met Lord Randolph Churchill's brother, the Duke of Marlborough. Though he was perhaps ten years older than I was, we became friends through sheer similarity of nature. He too wanted to touch life on many sides. He liked a good dinner and noble wine whether of Burgundy or Moselle, but above all, he loved women and believed with de Maupassant that the pursuit of them was the only entrancing adventure in a man's life. After a dinner at the Cafe Royal one night, he discoursed to me for an hour on the typical beauties of a dozen different races, not excluding the yellow or the black. He had as good a mind as his brother, but nothing like Randolph's genius as a captain or leader of men. I may tell one story of him here, though it took place much later, when I was editing the Fortnightly Review. I had met Lady Colin Campbell in Paris and found that she spoke excellent French and Italian because she had spent her childhood in Florence. Shortly after I was made editor of the Fortnightly Review—in 1887 it was, I think—Mrs. Jeune told me I ought to meet Lady Colin and publish some of her articles. I said I should be very glad to renew acquaintance with so pretty a woman. One day Mrs. Jeune brought about a meeting and told me to go to the back drawing-room where Lady Colin was waiting for me. I went upstairs and opened the door and there was Lady Colin toasting her legs in front of the fire. As soon as I spoke she dropped her skirt, excusing herself on the ground that she had got her feet wet and cold, but the exhibition seemed intentional, the appeal gross. At any rate, it put me off, and I soon found her articles were just as obvious as her tall, lithe figure and great dark eyes and hair. I had rejected one or two of her papers when the Duke asked me to dinner and soon told me, without unnecessarily beating about the bush, that he was in love with Lady Colin and had promised her that I would publish her next paper. I told him I couldn't do it, but he pressed me so earnestly that at length I said, "If you will write me an absolutely frank article, setting forth the sensuous view of life you have often preached to me, I'll accept Lady Colin's contribution blindfold; but I want absolute frankness from you." He broke in, laughing. "It's a bargain and I am greatly obliged to you; I'll write the article at once and let you have it this week." "Life and Its Pleasures," I soon saw, was frank to indecency. I should have to expurgate it before publishing, but it was sure to cause a huge stir. 345

I put the article away for some real need and assured the Duke that I would publish it sooner or later. I wish I had kept the paper, but I remember one passage in it which contained his defence. "There are persons," he wrote airily, "who will object to my frank sensuality. I have been asked in astonishment whether I really could see anything to admire in the beautiful knees of a woman. I have no doubt there are little birds who sip a drop or two of clear water at a lake-side and wonder what a healthy frog can find in the succulent ooze that delights his soul. Such prudes, and they are numerous and of both sexes in England, remind me of the witty Frenchman's joke. The talk had come to a discussion of differences between a chimpanzee and a gorilla: 'What animal do you think is the most like a man?' the hostess asked and at once the Frenchman replied, 'An Englishman, Madame, surely.'" The Duke had as many witty stories at command as anyone I have ever known, and he told them excellently. He attributed many of them to Travers, the famous wit of New York in the seventies who died alas! without leaving any inheritors of his talent. Travers was a real wit without alloy. I have a dozen stories of his which are good and one or two worth preserving. When Fiske and Gould had come together to exploit the finances of the Erie railroad and rob the American people of many millions of dollars, Fiske gave a luncheon party on his yacht and of course, among others, invited Travers. The financier took the wit all over the yacht and finally in the cabin showed him his own portrait painted by Bougereau, whom he called the most famous French painter, and a portrait of Gould, by some American, hanging near it. "What do you think of 'em?" he asked triumphantly. "Surely some—something's lacking," stuttered Travers with a puzzled look, for he exaggerated his stutter and pointed his witticisms with an air of bewilderment, just as Lord Plunkett used to do in London. "Lacking," repeated Fiske; "what do you mean?" "Mean," ejaculated Travers; "why, that the S-S-S Saviour should b-b-b-be between the two thieves!" Only one better story than this has come out of America in my time and I'll put it in here to get rid of it. A young American went to a hotel and saw the manager about getting some work; he was hard up, he said, and hungry, and would do almost anything. The manager put him off on the head waiter, who was slightly coloured, but famous for his good manners. He heard the lad's plaint and then, "I guess you'll do your best and work all right, but has you tact?" 346

"Don't know what tact means," said the lad, "but I'll get some if you tell me how!" "That's it," replied the darky, with a lordly air, "that's it. No one I guess kin tell you what tact is or how to git it, but I'll try to make it clear to you. The other day a lady's bell rang. She was a real beauty from old Verginny and all the waiters wuz busy, so I decided to go up myself and wait on her. "When I opened the door there she was, right opposite me, in her bath. Yes, in her bath. Of course I drew the door to at once, saying, "Scuse me please, Sir, 'scuse me!' Now the "scuse me' was politeness; but the 'Sir!' That was 'tact.' See! Tact!' " 347

CHAPTER XII. LAURA, YOUNG TENNYSON, CARLO PELLEGRINI, PADEREWSKI, MRS. LYNN LINTON I WAS TO MEET my fate again and unexpectedly. It was in my second year as editor of the Evening News and I was so confident of ultimate success in my business as a journalist that I began to go into society more and more and extend my knowledge of that wonderful pulsing life in London. One night I went to the Lyceum Theatre. I have forgotten what was on or why I went, but I had seen the whole play and was standing talking to Bram Stoker by the door when, in the throng of people leaving, I saw Laura Clapton and her fat mother coming down the steps. She smiled radiantly at me and again I was captivated: her height gave her presence, she carried herself superbly—she was the only woman in the world for me. I could tell myself that the oval of her face was a little round, as I knew her fingers were spatulate and ugly, but to me she was more than beautiful. I had seen more perfect women, women, too, of greater distinction, but she seemed made to my desire. She must be marvellously formed, I felt, from the way she moved; and her long hazel eyes, and masses of carelessly coiled chestnut hair, and the quick smile that lit up her face—all charmed me. I went forward at once and greeted her. Her mother was unusually courteous; in the crowd I could only be polite and ask them if they would sup with me at the Criterion, for the Savoy was not known then, as Ritz had not yet come and conquered London and made its restaurants the best in the world. "Why have you never come to see me?" was her first question. I could only reply, "It was too dangerous, Laura." The confession pleased her. Shall I ever forget that supper? Not so long as this machine of mine lasts. I was in love for the first time, on my knees in love, humble for the first time, and reverent in the adoration of true love. I remember the first time I saw the beauty of flowers: I was thirteen and had been invited to Wynnstay. We had luncheon and Lady Watkin Wynn afterwards took me into the garden and we walked between two "herbaceous borders," as they're called, rows four and five yards deep of every sort of flower: near the path the small flowers, then higher and higher to very tall plants—a sloping bank of beauty. For the first time I saw the glory of their colouring and the exquisite fragility of the blossoms: my senses were ravished and my eyes flooded with tears! So, overpowering was the sensation in the theatre: the appearance of Laura took my soul with admiration. But as soon as we were together, the demands of the mother in the cab began to cool me. "Daughter, the window must be shut! Daughter, we mustn't be late: your father—" and so forth. But after all, what did I care; my left foot was touching Laura's and I realized with a thrill that her right foot was on the other side of mine. If I could only put my knee between hers and touch her limbs: I would try as I got up to go out and I did

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and the goddess responded, or at least did not move away, and her smiling, kindly glance warmed my heart. The supper was unforgettable, for Laura had followed my work and the subtle flattery enthralled me. "Is May Fortescue really as pretty as you made out?" "It was surely my cue to make her lovely," I rejoined. Laura nodded with complete understanding. She enjoyed hearing the whole story; she was particularly interested in everything pertaining to the stage. That evening everything went on velvet. The supper was excellent, the Perrier-Jouet of 1875—the best wine chilled, not iced; and when I drove the mother and daughter home afterwards, while the mother was getting out Laura pressed her lips on mine and I touched her firm hips as she followed her mother. I had arranged too a meeting for the morrow for lunch at Kettner's of Soho in a private room. I went home drunk with excitement. I had taken rooms in Gray's Inn and when I entered them that night, I resolved to ask Laura to come to them after lunch, for I had bought some Chippendale chairs and some pieces of table silver of the eighteenth century that I wanted her to see. How did I come to like old English furniture and silver? I had got to know a man in Gray's Inn, one Alfred Tennyson, a son of Frederick Tennyson, the elder brother of the great poet, and he had taught me to appreciate the recondite beauty in everything one uses. I shall have much to tell of him in later volumes of this autobiography, for, strange to say, he is still my friend here in Nice forty-odd years later. Then he was a model of manliness and vigour; only medium height, but with good features and a splendidly strong figure. His love of poetry was the first bond between us. He was a born actor, too, and mimic; he had always wished to go on the stage—a man of cultivated taste and good company. Here I just wish to acknowledge his quickening influence: I only needed to be shown the right path. Very soon I had read all I could find about the two Adam brothers who came to London from Scotland and dowered the capital in the latter half of the eighteenth century with their own miraculous sense of beauty. The Adelphi off the Strand was named after them: even in their own time they were highly appreciated. But I was genuinely surprised to find that almost every age in England had its own ideals of beauty, and that the silverware of Queen Anne was as fine in its way as that of the Adam Brothers; and the tables of William and Mary had their own dignity, while a hall chair of Elizabeth's time showed all the stateliness of courtly manners. I began to realize that beauty was of all times and infinitely more varied than I had ever imagined. And if it was of all times, beauty was assuredly of all countries, showing subtle racecharacteristics that delighted the spirit. What could be finer than the silver and furniture of the First Empire in France? A sort of reflex of classic grace of 349

form with superabundance of ornament, as if flowered with pride of conquest. At length I had come into the very kingdom of man and discovered the proper nourishment for my spirit. No wonder I was always grateful to Alfred Tennyson, who had shown me the key, so to speak, of the treasure-house. It was Alfred Tennyson, too, in his rooms in Gray's Inn, who introduced me to Carlo Pellegrini. Pellegrini was a little fat Italian from the Abruzzi and Tennyson's mother was also an Italian, and she had taught her son sympathy for all those of her race. At any rate, Tennyson knew Carlo intimately, and in the eighties Carlo was a figure of some note in London life. He was the chief cartoonist of Vanity Fair and signed his caricatures "Ape." They constituted a new departure in the art: he was so kindly that his caricatures were never offensive, even to his victims. He would prowl about the lobby of the House of Commons, taking notes, and a dozen of his caricatures are among the best likenesses extant. His comrade Leslie Ward, who signed "Spy," was nearly as successful. A better draftsman, indeed, but content with the outward presentment of a man, not seeking, as Pellegrini sought, to depict the very soul of the sitter. Carlo confessed to being a homosexualist, flaunted his vice, indeed, and was the first to prove to me by example that a perverted taste in sex might go with a sweet and generous nature. For Carlo Pellegrini was one of nature's saints. One trait I must give: once every fortnight he went to the office of Vanity Fair in the Strand and drew twenty pounds for his cartoon. He had only a couple of hundred yards to go before reaching Charing Cross and usually owed his landlady five pounds; yet he had seldom more than five pounds left out of the twenty by the time he got to the end of the street. I have seen him give five pounds to an old prostitute and add a kindly word to the gift. Sometimes, indeed, he would give away all he had got and then say with a whimsical air of humility, "Spero che you will invite me to dine —eh, Frankarris?" The best thing I can say of the English aristocracy is that this member of it and that remained his friend throughout his career and supplied his needs time and again. Lord Rosebery was one of his kindliest patrons, my friend Tennyson was another, but it was in the nineties I learned to love him, so I'll keep him for my third volume. Here I only wish to remark that his frank confession of pederasty, of the love of a man for boys and youths, made me think and then question the worth of my instinctive, or rather unreasoned, prejudice. For on reflection I was forced to admit that paederastia was practiced openly and without any condemnation—nay, was even regarded as a semi-religious cult by the most virile and most courageous Greeks, by the Spartans chiefly, at the highest height of their development in the seventh and sixth and fifth centuries before our era. And what was considered honourable by Aeschylus and Sophocles and Plato was not to be condemned lightly by any thinking person. Moreover, the passion was condemned in modern days merely because it was sterile, while ordinary sex-sensuality was permissible because it produced children. But as I practiced Lesbianism, which was certainly sterile, I could not but see that my 350

aversion to paederastia was irrational and illogical, a mere personal peculiarity. Boys might surely inspire as noble a devotion as girls, though for me they had no attraction. I learned, too, from Carlo Pellegrini the entrancing, attractive power of sheer loving-kindness, for in person he was a grotesque caricature of humanity, hardly more than five feet two in height, squat and stout, with a face like a mask of Socrates, and always curiously illdressed; yet always and everywhere a gentleman—and to those who knew him, a good deal more. Next day I was waiting at Kettner's when Laura drove up; I hastened to pay her cab and take her upstairs. She didn't even hesitate as she entered the private room, and she kissed me with unaffected kindliness. There was a subtle change in her; what was it? "Did she love anyone else?" I asked, and she shook her head. "I waited for you," she said, "but the year ran out and five months more." "Mea culpa," I rejoined, "mea maxima culpa, but forgive me and I'll try to make up—" After we had lunched and I had locked the door against any chance intrusion of waiter or visitor, she came and sat on my knees and I kissed and embraced her almost at will but—. "What's the matter, Laura? The red of your lips is not uniform; what have you been doing with yourself?" "Nothing," she replied, with an air of bewilderment. "What do you mean?" "You've altered," I persisted. "We all alter in a year and a half," she retorted. But I was not satisfied; once when I kissed the inside of her lips, she drew back questioning. "How strangely you kiss." "Does it excite you?" I asked, and a pretty moue was all the answer I got in words. But soon under my kissings and caresses her lips grew hot and she did not draw away as she used to do a year and a half before; she gave her lips to me and her eyes too grew long in sensuous abandonment. I stopped, for I wanted to think, and above all, I wanted a memorable gift and not a casual conquest. "I want to show you a lot of things, Laura," I said. "Won't you come to my rooms in Gray's Inn and have a great afternoon? Will you come tomorrow?" And soon we had made an appointment; and after some more skirmishing kisses I took her home. Laura lunching with me in my rooms in Gray's Inn. The mere thought took my breath, set the pulses in my temples throbbing and parched my mouth. I had already discovered the Cafe Royal, at that time by far the best restaurant in 351

London, thanks to the owner, M. Nichol, a Frenchman, who had come to grief twice in France because he wanted to keep a really good restaurant. But now Nichol was succeeding in London beyond his wildest hopes (London always wants the best) and was indeed already rich. Nichol's daughter married and the son-in-law was charged by Nichol with the purchase of wine for the restaurant. Of course he got a commission on all he purchased, and after five and twenty years was found to have bought and bought with rare judgment more than a million pounds worth of wine beyond what was necessary. In due time I may tell the sequel. But even in 1884 and 1885 the Cafe Royal had the best cellar in the world. Fifteen years later it was the best ever seen on earth. Already I had got to know Nichol and more than once, being in full sympathy with his ideals, had praised him in the Evening News. Consequently, he was always willing to do better than his best for me. So now I ordered the best lunch possible: hors d'oeuvres with caviare from Nijni; a tail piece of cold salmon-trout; and a cold grouse, fresh, not high, though as tender as if it had been kept for weeks, as I shall explain later; and to drink, a glass of Chablis with the fish, two of Haut Brion of 1878 with the grouse, and a bottle of Perrier-Jouet of 1875 to go with the sweet that was indeed a surprise covering fragrant wild strawberries. Nowhere could one have found a better lunch and Laura entered into the spirit of the whole ceremony. She came as the clock struck one and had a new hat and a new dress, and, looking her best, had also her most perfect manners. Did you ever notice how a woman's manners alter with her dress? Dressed in silk she is silky gracious, the queen in the girl conscious of the rustle of the silken petticoat. I had a kiss, of course, and many an embrace as I helped her to take off her wraps. Then I showed her the lunch and expatiated on the table-silver of the Adam brothers. When we had finished lunch, the water was boiling and I made the coffee and then we talked interminably, for I was jealously conscious of a change in her and determined to solve the mystery. But she gave me no clue—her reticence was a bad sign, I thought; she would not admit that she had any preferred cavalier in the long year of my absence, though I had seen her twice with the same man. Still, the proof was to come. About four I took her to my bedroom and asked her to undress. "I'm frightened," she said. "You do care for me?" "I love you," I said, "as I've never loved anyone in my life. I'm yours; do with me what you will!" "That's a great promise?" "I'll keep it," I protested. She accepted smiling: "Go away, sir, and come back in ten minutes." 352

When I returned I had only pyjamas on, and as I went hastily to the bed I was conscious of absolute reverence: if only the dreadful doubt had not been there, it would have been adoration. As I pushed back the clothes I found she had kept her chemise on. I lifted it up and pushed it round her neck to enjoy the sight of the most beautiful body I had ever seen. But adoring plastic beauty as I do, I could only give a glance to her perfections; the next moment I had touched her sex and soon I was at work: in a minute or two I had come but went on with the slow movement till she could not but respond, and then in spite of her ever-growing excitement, as I continued she showed surprise. "Haven't you finished?" I shook my head and kissed her, tonguing her mouth and revelling in the superb body that gave itself to my every movement. Suddenly her whole frame was shaken by a sort of convulsion; as if against her will, she put her legs about me and hugged me to her. "Stop, please!" she gasped, and I stopped; but when I would begin again, she repeated, "Please," and I withdrew, still holding her in my arms. A moment later, remembering her fear, I got out of bed and showed her in the next room the bidet and syringe. She went in at once, but as she passed me I lifted the chemise and had more than a glimpse of the most perfect hips and legs. She smiled indulgently and turning, kissed me and passed into the dressing-room. I felt certain now that she had given herself in that d... d year and a half to someone else. She was not a virgin, nor at her first embrace, but she had not been used much. Why? Had she been enceinte and got rid of the coming child? That would explain her lips, poor dear girl. If she would trust me and tell me, I would marry her; if not— When she returned she was all cold; I lifted her into bed, and after taking off her chemise covered her till she got warm, and then bit by bit studied her figure. It was not perfect, but the faults were all merits in my eyes. Her neck was a trifle too short, but her breasts were as small as a girl's of thirteen; her hips were perfect with almost flat belly, long legs and the tiniest, best-kept sex in the world. It was always perfectly clean and sweet. I have never seen one more perfect. The clitoris was just a little mound and the inner lips were glowing crimson. I began to tongue the sensitive spot, and at once she began to move spasmodically. As I touched just below the clitoris, she squirmed violently: "What are you doing?" she cried, trying to lift my head. "Wait and see," I replied, "it's even more intense there, the sensation, isn't it?" She nodded breathlessly, and I went on; in a little while she gave herself altogether to my lips and soon began to move convulsively and then: "Oh, Frank, oh! It's too much. I can't stand it, oh, oh, oh!"—she tried to draw away: as I persisted, she said, "I shall scream. I can't stand it— please stop," and as I lifted my head I saw that her love-juice had come down all over her sex. I touched the little clitoris again with my lips but she lifted my head up for a 353

kiss and putting her arms about me strained me to her madly. "Oh you dear, dear, dear! I want you in me, your—, please." Of course I did as she requested and went on working till her eyes turned up and she grew so pale—I stopped. When she got her breath again—"I would not have believed," she said after a while, "that one could feel so intensely. You took my breath and then my heart was in my throat, choking me—" Those words were my reward. I had learned the way to her supreme moment. How we dressed I don't know, but passing through the dining-room I found myself desperately hungry and Laura confessed to the same appetite, and once more we set to on the food. Why was Laura to me different from any other woman? She did not give me as much pleasure as Topsy; indeed, already in my life there had been at least two superior to her in the lists of love, and a couple also who had flattered me more cunningly and given me proofs of a more passionate affection. Her queenly personality, the sheer brains in her, may have accounted for part of the charm. She certainly found memorable words: this first day as we were leaving the bedroom, she stopped, and putting her hands on my shoulders she said, "Non ti scordare di me" (Don't forget me), and then, putting her arms round my neck, "We were one, weren't we?" And she kissed me with clinging lips. And if it wasn't a word that ravished me, it was a gesture of sacred boldness. As she gradually came to understand how her figure delighted me, she cast off shame and showed me that the Swedish exercises she practiced day after day had given her lovely body the most astonishing flexibility. She could stand with her back to a wall and, leaning back, could kiss the wall with her head almost on a level with her hips, her backbone as flexible as a bow. To me she was the most fascinating mistress and companion with a thousand different appeals. To see her in her triumphant nakedness strike an attitude and recite three or four lines, and then take the ultra-modest pose of the Florentine Venus and cover her lovely sex with her hand was a revelation in mischievous coquetry. But now and then she complained of pains in the lower body, and I became certain that her womb had been inflamed by a wilful miscarriage: she had given herself to my American rival. If she had only been frank and told me the whole truth, I'd have forgiven her everything and the last barrier between us would have fallen, but it was not to be. She was still doubtful, perhaps of my success in life, doubtful whether I would go from victory to victory. In the humility of love I wanted to show her the reasons of my success, told her how I had learnt from newsboys, foolishly forgetting that to women ignorant of life, results alone matter: the outward and visible sign is everything to them. It took years for her to learn that I was able to win in life wherever I wished, on the stock exchange even more easily than in journalism. And her mother was always against me, as I learned later. "He 354

can talk, but so can other people," she would say with a side glance at the Irish husband, whose talking was always unsuccessful. But though our immediate surroundings were unfavourable and doubtful, when we were together Laura and I lived golden hours; and now, when I think of her, I recall occasional phrases both of love's sweet spirit and poses of her exquisite body that made me shudder with delight. Month in, month out, we met in private once at least a week, and once a fortnight or so I took mother and daughter to the theatre and supper afterwards. In that summer I bought a house in Kensington Gore opposite Hyde Park and only a few doors away from the mansion of the Sassoons, whom I came to know later. This little house gave me a place in London society. I gave occasional dinners and parties in it, helped by Lord Folkestone and the Arthur Walters, and had a very real success. I remember Mrs. Walter once advising me to invite a new pianist who was certain to make a great name for himself, and the first time I met him I arranged an evening for him: a hundred society people came to hear him and went away enthusiastic admirers. It was Paderewski on his first visit to London, and mine was the first house in which he played. Of course I would have had Laura there to hear him, but it was difficult for her to go out in the evening without her mother, and I could not stand the mother. She made herself the centre of every gathering by rudeness, if in no other way, and Laura would not hear a word criticizing her. I remember saying once to her, "You got all your beauty and grace from your father." She was annoyed immediately. "I got my skin from my mother," she retorted, "and my hair as well and my heart, too, which is a good thing for you, Sir, as you may find out," and she made a face at me of exquisite childishness that enchanted me as much as her loyalty. Girls nearly always prefer their mother to their father: why? One evening Laura and her mother came to a small evening party I gave in Kensington Gore and Mrs. Lynn Linton was there, who was by way of being a great admirer of mine and a great friend. Laura sang for us: she had been admirably trained by Lamperti of Milan, whom I knew well, but she had only a small voice and her singing was of the drawing-room variety. But afterwards, feeling that she was suffering through the failure of her song. I got her to act a scene from Phedre and she astonished everyone: she was a born actress of the best! Everyone praised her most warmly in spite of the mother's pinched air of disapproval: she was always against Laura's acting. But Mrs. Lynn Linton took me aside and advised me to get rid of the mother: "She's impossible; the girl's a wonder and very good to look at, you Lothario! Or are you going to marry her?" "Marry," I replied, "sure," for Laura was within hearing. 355

"Get rid of the mother first," advised Mrs. Lynn Linton. "She's no friend of yours, anyone can see that. How have you offended her?" I shrugged my shoulders; have likes and dislikes any avowable reason? I found it difficult, not to say impossible, to get any sex-knowledge from Laura. Like most girls with any Irish strain in them, she disliked talking of the matter at all. I asked her, "When did you first come to realize the facts of sex?" "I don't really know," she'd say. "Girls at school talk: some elder girl tells a younger one this or that and the younger one talks of the new discovery with her chums and so the knowledge comes." My reverence for her was so extraordinary that although I made up my mind a dozen tunes to ask her had she ever excited herself as a girl, I never could. Often, indeed, when I asked her something intimate, she would take me in her arms and kiss me to silence while her eyes danced in amusement; and if I still persisted I'd get some phrase such as, "You have me, Sir, body and soul; what more do you want?" Once I asked her about dancing. I had grown jealous watching her: she was picked out by the best dancers at every party and the sensuous grace of her movements attracted universal admiration. Not that she exaggerated the sensuous abandonment; on the contrary, it was only indicated now and then. As a dancer she reminded me irresistibly of Kate Vaughan, whom I always thought incomparable, the most graceful dancer I ever saw on any stage. Laura moved with the same easy exquisite rhythm, a poem in motion. But she denied always that the dance excited her sensually. "It's the music I love," she would say, "the rhythm, the swaying harmony of the steps. It's as near intoxication as sense-indulgence." "But again and again his leg was between yours," I insisted. "You must have felt the thrill." She shrugged her shoulders and would not reply. Again I began. "You know that even your little breasts are very sensitive; as soon as my lips touch them the nipples stand out firm and glowing red and your sex is still quicker to respond. You must feel the man's figure against your most sensitive part. I believe that now and again you take care his figure should touch you: that adds the inimitable thrill now and then to your grace of movement." At first she seemed to hesitate, then she said thoughtfully, "That seems to me the great difference between the man and the woman in the way of love. From what you say, it is clear that touching a woman's legs or feeling her breast would excite you, even if you didn't care for her, perhaps even if you disliked her; but such a contact doesn't excite a woman in the least, unless she loves the man. And if she loves him as soon as he comes towards her, she's thrilled; when he puts his arms round her, she's shaken with emotion! With us 356

women it's all a question of love; with you men, sensuality takes the place of love and often leads you to cheat yourselves and us." "That may indeed be the truth," I replied. "In any case, it's the deepest insight I've heard on the matter and I'm infinitely obliged to you for it. Love then intensifies your sensations, whereas it is often the keenness of our sensations that intensifies our love." "You men, then," she summed up, "have surely the lower and more material nature." And in my heart I had to admit that she was right. Whenever we had been long together, her attraction for me was so overpowering that it always excited suspicion in me. I don't know why; I state the fact: I was never sure of her love. Verses of the old German folksong often came into my mind: Sie hat zwei Auglein, die sind braun Heut du Dich! Sie warden dich uberzwerch anschaun Heut du Dich! Heut du Dich! Vertrau ihr nicht, sie narret Dich. Sie hat ein licht goldfarbenes Haar Heut du Dich! Und was sie red't das ich nicht wahr, Heut du Dich! Heut du Dich! Vertrau ihr nicht, sie narret Dich! (Her beauty's full of contrasts, hazel eyes and golden hair and lovely body: Don't trust her! She's fooling you!) 357

CHAPTER XIII. THE PRINCE; GENERAL DICKSON; ENGLISH GLUTTONY; SIR ROBERT FOWLER AND FINCH HATTON; ERNEST BECKETT AND MALLOCK; THE PINK 'UN AND FREE SPEECH IT IS DIFFICULT TO talk of English customs in the last quarter of the nineteenth century without comparing them with the morals and modes of life of their ancestors in the last quarter of the eighteenth. In his history of the Early Life of Fox, Sir George Trevelyan paints an astonishing picture of the immoralities of the earlier aristocratic regime. Not only were the leaders of society and parliamentary governors corrupt in a pecuniary sense; not only did they drink to such excess that they were old at forty-five and permanently invalid with gout before middle-age: they gambled like madmen and some sought deliberately to turn their young sons into finished rakes. I cannot help thinking that it was the hurricane of the French revolution that cleared the air and brought men back to an observance of such laws of morals as are also rules of health. The reform is often attributed to the influence of Queen Victoria, but from 1875 on I never could find the slightest indication or trace of her influence for good. The most striking improvement in aristocratic morality in the last quarter of the nineteenth century was brought about by the loose living Edward, Prince of Wales. Before he and his "Smart Set" came to power in London, it was still usual at dinner parties to allow the ladies to leave the table and go to the drawing-room to gossip while the men drew together and consumed a bottle or two of claret each. It was no longer the custom to get drunk, but to get half-seas over was still fairly usual; and if the ladies disappeared at nine or nine-thirty, it was customary for the men to sit drinking till ten-thirty or eleven. One result was that even men in their thirties knew a good deal about the qualities of fine wine. It used to be said, and with some truth, that it was English, or rather London, taste that established the prices of the finer vintages of Bordeaux. There can be no doubt at all that it was English taste that taught men and women everywhere to prefer natural Champagne (brut or nature) to the sweetened and brandied varieties preferred all over the continent, and especially in France. French gourmets knew that the firm of Veuve Clicquot had almost a monopoly of Buzet, the finest natural white wine with which to make champagne, but they submitted to having this product sweetened and brandied till it could only be drunk in small quantities, towards the end of dinner with the sweets. In the seventies the Prince of Wales came to be the acknowledged leader of the "Smart Set." Fortunately for England, he preferred the continental habit of coffee after dinner, black coffee enjoyed with the cigarette. No one who smokes can taste the bouquet of fine claret, and so the cigarette and coffee banished the habit of drinking heavily after dinner.

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The Prince too preferred champagne to claret and so the taste in champagne grew keener; and soon the natural wine superseded the doctored French varieties. In the course of a single decade it became the habit in London to join the ladies after having drunk a glass or two of pure champagne during the dinner and a cup of coffee afterwards while smoking a cigarette. Sobriety became the custom and now a man who drinks to excess would soon find it impossible to discover a house where he would be tolerated. The cigarette, introduced by the Prince of Wales, made London society sober. In an aristocratic society good customs as well as bad sink down in everwidening circles like water poured on sand. Gentlemen in England no longer drink to excess and now it is difficult to find a man anywhere who could tell you the year of a great claret or port, whereas in the mid-Victorian era, nine men about town out of ten could have made a fair guess at any known vintage. The hospitality of the English gentry is deservedly famous; there is nothing like it anywhere else in the world, nothing to be compared to it. Of course I make allowances for the fact that young men are especially wanted at dinners because married people are more difficult to pair off. Besides, the custom of primogeniture that gives everything to the eldest son and drives the younger boys to India or the colonies puts the young men in London at a premium. The fact remains that after my first month as editor of the Evening News, I did not dine in my own house half a dozen times in the year, and I had to reject more invitations than I could accept. Nothing was expected of the young man in return: provided he was properly introduced and had decent manners and was now and then amusing or able to tell a good story, he was a persona grata everywhere. The kindness was genuine and general and deserves description. Almost at the beginning of my work in London and when I only knew a few people of position such as Mrs. (afterwards Lady) Jeune, I received an invitation to dinner almost a month ahead from a General Dickson who, I soon found out, was well-known in London as a prominent member of the Four-in-Hand Club. In the House of Commons I happened to mention him to Agg Gardner then as now, I believe, the Member for Cheltenham, and he exclaimed, "Dickson! I should think I did know him. One of the best, a rare old boy; gives a very good dinner and usually invites only one lady to half a dozen men. Says that a pretty woman is needed to keep the talk up to a high standard. Of course, you'll go." When the evening came I went to the house in one of the big West End squares. A couple of old soldiers were acting as footmen in the hall, and scarcely had I taken off my coat when General Dickson in person appeared out of a room to the right and welcomed me cordially. He was a fine-looking man, above middle-height, well set up with broad shoulders. He had good features, too, and his bronzed face was framed by a mass of silver hair. 359

"I'm glad to see you," he said warmly, giving me a strong handclasp. "I am delighted to be here," I said, "but I thought myself quite unknown in London. It was therefore doubly kind of you to invite me. I didn't think you'd remember me!" "I met you at Wolseley's," he said, "and at dinner you said something about beauty that struck me. You said, 'There must be something strange in any excelling beauty.' Now beauty has passed out of my life, but a good dinner still appeals to me, so I took your phrase and applied it to a dinner—where, mind you, it's equally appropriate. 'There must be something strange in any excelling dinner'. So as I knew I'd have something strange tonight, I thought it only fair to ask you for your opinion of my attempt," and he laughed heartily, pleasantly. The dinner was very good. There was a pretty, blond woman on the General's right, whose name I forget, though I got to know her fairly well later in London. She played hostess excellently and the service was faultless, too, though all the attendants were evidently old soldiers. The butler, I remember, with silver hair like his master, had the pleasant old custom of announcing the wine he was offering you, 'Chateau Lafitte 1870,' and so on. The dinner was very good, indeed, but no surprise in it till we came to the 'savoury,' when the door at the side opened and a Russian appeared in national costume with a great silver dish. "Milk caviar," our host announced, "sent to me by His Majesty, the Czar, whom I have the honour to know slightly," and he turned smiling to me. "'Something strange,' indeed," I cried in response, "for even in Moscow or Nijni I have never tasted it. I've heard somewhere that it all goes to the Czar." We all enjoyed the delicacy, though I noticed that the blond mistress of the ceremony did not take any of the cut-up onions which went with the caviar, but contented herself with a squeeze of lemon, and all of us followed her example. This dinner at General Dickson's taught me that good eating was more studied in London than anywhere else in the world. Agg Gardner knew the General for his table, just as Gardner himself was known to everyone as a gourmet and fine taster in both food and wine. He's the head still, I believe of the kitchen committee in the House of Commons. Strange that we had no word for gourmet in English, though we have gormandiser for gourmand, and glutton for goinfre, and others could be formed as gutler—even German has got Feinschmecker, but English has no dignified word, I'm afraid, for one who has a fine palate both in food and drink. Even "feaster" has a touch of greed in it instead of discrimination; so I've coined "fine taster," though it's not very good. 360

But it is only among the better classes that one dines to perfection in London. The best restaurants are no better than the best in Paris or Vienna or Moscow; and the English middle class dine worse than the French middle class because they know nothing of cooking as an art; and the poor live worse and fare harder than any class in Christendom. English liberty and aristocratic harshness result in the degradation of the weak and the wastrel, and alas; often in the martyrdom of the best and most gifted. There are no Davidsons and Middletons, no despairing suicides of genius in any other country of Christendom, though in this respect America runs England close, for her two greatest, Poe and Whitman, lived in penury and died in utter neglect. "It's needful," we are told, "that offences come, but woe unto him by whom the offence cometh." The old bad habit of eating and drinking to excess was still rampant in the eighties at city dinners. I remember how astonished I was at my first Lord Mayor's Banquet in 1883. The Evening News being Conservative, I was given a good seat at the Lord Mayor's table, nearly opposite him and the chief speakers. After the first banquet I never missed one for years because of the light these feasts cast on English customs and manners. I will not tell about them in detail, indeed, I couldn't if I would, for my notes only apply to two or three out of a dozen or more. The first thing that struck me was the extraordinary gluttony displayed by seven out of ten of the city magnates. Till that night I had thought that as a matter of courtesy every man in public suppressed any signs of greed he might feel, but here greed was flaunted. The man next to me ate like an ogre. I took a spoonful or two of turtle soup and left the two or three floating morsels of green meat. When he had finished his first plateful, which was emptied to the last drop in double quick tune, my neighbour, while waiting for a second helping, turned to me. "That's why I like this table," he began, openly licking his lips. "You can have as many helpings as you want." "Can't you at the other tables?" I asked. "You can," he admitted, "but here the servants are instructed to be courteous and they all expect a tip. Most people give a bob, but I always give half a crown if the flunkey's attentive. Why do you leave that?" he exclaimed, pointing to the pieces of green meat on my plate. "That's the best part," and he turned his fat, flushed, red face to his second plateful without awaiting my answer. The gluttonous haste of the animal and the noise he made in swallowing each spoonful amused me. In a trice he had cleared the soupplate and beckoned to the waiter for a third supply. "I'll remember you, my man," he said in a loud whisper to the waiter, "but see that you get me some green fat. I want some Calipash." "Is that what you call Calipash?" I asked, pointing with a smile to the green gobbets on my plate. 361

"Of course," he said. "They used to give you Calipash and Calipee with every plateful. I'll bet you don't know the difference between them: well, Calipash conies from the upper shell and Calipee from the lower shell of the turtle. Half these new men," and he swung his hand contemptuously round the table, "don't know the difference between real turtle and mock turtle, but I do." I couldn't help laughing. "Now you," he went on, "this is your first banquet, I can see. You're either a Member of the 'Ouse or perhaps a journalist. Now, ain't ye?" "I'm the editor of the Evening News," I replied, "and you've guessed right. This is my first Lord Mayor's Banquet." "Eat that up," he said, pointing to the green pieces on my plate. "Eat that up; it'll go to your ribs and make a man of you. I gamed three pounds at my first banquet, I did, but then I'm six inches taller nor you." He was indeed a man of huge frame. "No place like this," he went on, "no place in the world," and he emptied another glass of champagne. "The best food and the best drink in God's world and nothing to pay for it, nothing. That's England, this is London, the grandest city on earth, I always say, and I'm proud to belong to it!" When the first helping of mutton was brought to him, he demanded jelly, and when it was brought he cleared his plate in a twinkling and asked for more. "Do you know what that is?" he cried, turning again to me. "That's the finest Southdown mutton in the world, three or four years old, if it's a day, and fit for a prince to eat. Fair melts in your mouth, it does. I don't say nuthin' against Welsh mutton, mind ye, or Exmoor, tasty and all that, but give me Southdown. Now that," he added, pointing to the full plate the waiter had brought him, "that's a bellyful; that's cut and come again style!" And he winked approval at the waiter. To my amazement he had a second and third helping of mutton and went through the rest of the menu with the same avidity, getting redder and redder, hotter and hotter all the while. He must have eaten a pound and a half of meat, and he admitted he had drunk three bottles of champagne before the close. "Doesn't it make you drunk?" I asked. "Bless you, no," he exclaimed. "If you eat your fill and put a good lining of this mutton round your belly, you can drink as much as you like, or at least I can. Thank God for it," he added solemnly. 362

In the intervals of the speech-making after the dinner, he confided to me that he was the head, if I remember aright, of the Cordwainer's Company, and invited me in due course to their annual dinner a month later and treated me like a prince. "You don't eat and drink as you ought to," was his conclusion. "There's no pleasure on earth like it, and unlike all other pleasures, the older you get, the keener your taste!" That was his philosophy. But I found William Smith a kindly host and was not surprised to hear that he stood well with all who knew him. "His word's his bond," they said, "and he's more than kind if you need him. A good fellow is Bill and a true blue Conservative." All in all, a model Englishman. I remember at a later banquet having a little tub of a man for neighbour. He seemed uncomfortable and I couldn't account for his wrigglings till I saw he had an immense bottle between his legs. "What's that?" I cried. "A Jeroboam of Haut Brion '78'," he ejaculated. "The best wine in the world." "Where on earth did you get that immense bottle?" I enquired. "It's as big as six ordinary bottles." "No, it ain't," he said. "A magnum is two bottles and this here is four, and a rehoboam is eight, but I can't run to that." "You don't mean to say," I interrupted, "that you're going to drink four bottles to your own cheek?" "I don't know about cheek," he retorted angrily, "but thank God I can drink as I like without asking your permission." "Is it really the best wine in the world?" I queried. "I'd like to taste it! Did you bring it?" "You can have a glass," the manikin replied, "and I don't offer that to everybody, I can tell you, or there'd be d... d little left for Johnny; but you can have a glass with a heart and a half." I went on with the bottle of champagne I had ordered till the end of dinner and then reminded my little neighbour of the promised glass. "I oughtn't to give it you," he grumbled. "You've been smoking and no one can taste the bouquet of fine wine with tobacco smoke in his mouth. But," he added, withholding the bottle, "for God's sake, clean your palate before you taste this wine!" 363

"How shall I clean my palate?" I asked. "By eating bread and salt, of course," he said, "but you'll never enjoy the real bouquet and body of wine till you've given up smoking." And as he spoke he poured into his own glass the last drops of the noble Bordeaux. "A great wine," he said, smacking his lips. "The phylloxera ruined the finest vineyards; Chateau Lafitte had to be replanted with American vines. No one will ever again drink a Chateau Lafitte as our fathers knew it, but this Haut Brion is the next best. What do you think I gave for that Jeroboam?" "I can't imagine," I said. "Perhaps three or four pounds." He smiled pityingly. "Nearer ten," he replied, "and not easy to get at that! In ten years more it'll be worth double, mark my words. I know what I'm talking about." A curious little man, I thought to myself when I saw him drinking port and then old cognac with his coffee. "Push coffee, the French call it," he said, tapping his glass of cognac, "and they know what's good." When the banquet was over he asked me to help him to his carriage, as his legs were drunk. "The only part of me that ever feels the wine," he said grinning. I had nearly to carry him out of the room, but he was violently sick before I got him to his brougham. Evidently, his legs were not the only part of his body to revolt that night. The way those men ate and drank, gluttonised and guzzled was disgusting, but I had seen German students drink beer till they had to put then-fingers down their throats and then go back to the Kneipe again, rejoicing in their bestiality. "It's the same race," I said to myself again and again. "The same race with bestiality and brutality as predominant features!" One evening later I left the hall before the speech-making had begun, and as luck would have it, I met George Wyndham at the door. "You here!" he cried. "What do you think of English conviviality?" "English bestiality, you mean," I retorted. "Bestiality?" he repeated. "I've seen none; what do you mean?" "Come outside," I said and drew him outside the door into the pure air for a minute or so. "Now," I went on, "put your head in when I open the door and you'll understand what I mean!" As I opened the door the stench was insupportable. "Good God!" cried Wyndham, "Why didn't I notice it before?" 364

"You're on the right side of the top table," I explained, "and therefore you suffered less than we did." "Good God!" he repeated. "What a revelation!" That was the night, I think, when Lord Salisbury, then Prime Minister and chief guest, made a really great speech. He reminded his audience that the previous year, speaking in the same place, he had thought himself able to promise that peace would be maintained in the coming year. "Some might think I was mistaken," he went on, "when they read in this morning's paper of the Black Mountain campaign and other fightings on our northwest frontier in India, but such frays are not to be called war and hardly constitute a breach of the peace. Seen in true perspective, they are nothing but the wavebreaking in blood-stained foam on the ever advancing tide of English civilization." The fine image was brought out in his most ordinary manner and voice without any attempt at rhetoric and perhaps was the more effective on that account. But if I wish to give a true picture of the London of my time, I must go further than I've yet gone. In this year Sir Robert Fowler was elected Lord Mayor of London for the second time, an almost unique distinction. In view of the attacks that had been made on the city finances and the attempts to democratise the city institutions, it was felt advisable for the great Corporation to put its best foot foremost. Sir Robert Fowler was not only an out-and-out Conservative and a rich man, but also a convinced supporter of all city privileges, and for a wonder a good scholar to boot who had won high university honours. "A Grecian, Sir, of the best!" I met this gentleman at dinner one night at Sir William Marriott's, who was M.P. for Brighton and had been made judge-advocate-general; and so had managed to lift his small person and smaller mind to the dignity of ministerial position that ensured, I believe, a life-pension. I went to Marriott's dinner rather reluctantly; his wife was a washed-out, prim, little woman, kindly but undistinguished, and Marriott himself rather bored me. His dining-room was small and the half dozen city magnates I found assembled rather confirmed my doubts of the entertainment. Suddenly Fowler came in, a large man who must have been five feet ten at least in height and much more in girth. We were soon at dinner and the way the guests ate and drank and commented on all the edibles and appraised all the wines was a sort of education. One guest held forth on the comparative merits of woodcock and partridge and amused me finally by declaring that a poet had settled the question. "What poet do you mean?" I laughed, for poetry and guzzling were poles apart, I thought. 365

"I don't know his name," he replied, "but here's the verse," and he began: "If the partridge had the woodcock's thigh So good a bird could never fly; If the woodcock had the partridge breast So good a bird was never dressed." Another convive declared that the French knew nothing of champagne except what "we English have taught 'em. I remember when they never thought of preferring one year to another or one special vintage to all others. We taught 'em that Perrier-Jouet 1875 is the best champagne ever seen. The Frenchmen think then: blooming Veuve Clicquot's the prime champagne, but they have no palates, they don't know anything about sparkling wines." I had just taken a spoonful of clear soup when my nostrils were assailed by a pungent, unmistakable odour. I looked at the rubicund little man next to me, but he went on drinking glass after glass of champagne, as if for a wager. I was on Lady Marriott's left hand, opposite to Sir Robert Fowler, who was of course on her right. By the time we had enjoyed the roast and come to the game, the atmosphere in the room was quite appalling; the partridges, too, were so high that they fell apart when touched. I had never cultivated a taste for rotting meat and so I trifled with my bread and watched the convives. On first sitting down, Sir Robert Fowler had talked a little to Lady Marriott and myself, but after the roast beef had been served he never spoke to us, but ate—like an ogre. Never have I seen a man stuff with such avidity. First he had a helping of beef, then Yorkshire pudding and beef again. After the first mouthful he cried out to his host, "Excellent Scotch beef, my dear Marriott. Where do you get it and how is it kept so perfectly?" "Secrets of the prison house," replied Marriott, smiling. He knew that once the dinner was finished, the Mayor would forget the whole incident. When I turned to eat I found my huge vis-a-vis smacking his lips and hurrying again to his plate, intent on cutting and swallowing huge gobbets of meat while the veins of his forehead stood out like knotted cords and the beads of sweat poured down his great red face! I looked at Lady Marriott and saw a shrinking in her face corresponding to the disgust I felt. I looked away again to spare her, when suddenly there came a loud unmistakable noise and then an overpowering odour. I stared at the big glutton opposite me, but he had already finished a third plateful of the exquisite Scotch beef and was wiping his forehead in serene unconsciousness of having done anything out of the common. I stole a glance at Lady Marriott; she was as white as a ghost and her first helping of meat still lay untouched upon her plate. The quiet lady avoided my eyes and had evidently made up her mind to endure to the end. 366

But the atmosphere got worse and worse, the smells stronger and stronger, till I rejoiced every time a servant opened the door, whether to go out or come in. All the guests were eating as if their lives depended on their appetites and Marriott's butler and four men servants were plainly insufficient to supply the imperious desires of his half dozen guests. I have never in my life seen men gormandise to be compared with those men. And the curious thing was that as course followed course their appetite seemed to increase. Certainly the smell got worse and worse, and when the savoury of soft herring roes on toast came on the board, the orgy degenerated into a frenzy. Another unmistakable explosion and I could not but look again at my hostess. She was as pale as death, and this time her eyes met mine in despairing appeal. "I'm not very well," she said in a low tone. "I don't think I can see it through!" "Why should you?" I responded, getting up. "Come upstairs; we'll never be missed!" We got up quietly and left the room and in fact were not missed by anyone. As soon as Lady Marriott breathed the pure air of the hall and stairway she began to revive, while the change taught me how terrible the putrid atmosphere of the dining-room had become. "That's my first City dinner," said Lady Marriott, drawing a long breath as we sat down in the drawing-room, "and I hope devoutly it may be my last. How perfectly awful men can be!" "So that's Sir Robert Fowler," I said. "The best Lord Mayor, the only scholarly Lord Mayor, London has ever had!" One story about Fowler must be inserted here, though the incident took place some time later. The Honourable Finch-Hatton, a son of Lord Winchelsea, had been returned to Parliament as a Conservative. On one of his first nights in the House of Commons he happened to be sitting beside Fowler, who made a long speech in favour of London government and "the great institutions of the greatest City in the world." At the end he said he would not conclude with any proposal till he heard what his opponents had to say in answer to him; he could hardly believe that they had any reasonable reply. While Fowler was speaking, Finch-Hatton had shown signs of restlessness; towards the end of the speech he had moved some three yards away from the baronet. As soon as Fowler sat down, Finch-Hatton sprang up holding his handkerchief to his nose. "Mr. Speaker," he began, and was at once acknowledged by the Speaker, for it was a maiden speech, and as such entitled to precedence by the courteous custom of the House. "I know why the Right Honourable Member for the City 367

did not conclude his speech with a proposal; the only way to conclude such a speech appropriately would be with a motion!" And Finch-Hatton sat down amid the wild cheers and laughter of the whole House after making the wittiest maiden speech on record. The success of the mot was so extraordinary that I believe he never again ventured to address the House. Finch-Hatton had spent half a dozen years as a squatter in Queensland and was said to be the only white man that ever lived who could throw a boomerang as well as a Queensland aborigine. It is certain that no one ever threw a boomerang with such success in the House of Commons, for with one winged word he destroyed the influence of Sir Robert Fowler. As soon as Fowler's name came up afterwards the story of Finch-Hatton's maiden speech was told, too, and wild laughter submerged Fowler's reputation. But if I have set down these examples of English gluttony and, if you will, of English bestiality, I must also say that in the best English houses you found the best food in the world perfectly served and enjoyed with charming decorum. I often said that the English idea of cooking was the best in the world: it was the aristocratic ideal, the wish to give to every single thing its own peculiar flavour. For example, potatoes are best boiled in their skins; the water should then be drained off and the potatoes allowed to steam a few minutes: then you get a potato at its best. Beef should be roasted before the fire and served lightly cooked; mutton, too, should be roasted, but better done; veal and pork should be well done. Everyone of any position in my time in London knew that grouse lightly roasted and eaten cold with a glass or two of brut champagne made a lunch for the gods. The French, on the other hand, are usually reputed to be the best gourmets in the world, but I have never eaten a first-rate meal in any French house or restaurant. The French have the democratic idea of cooking and are continually tempted to obliterate all distinctions with a democratic sauce. They will serve you potatoes in twenty ways, all of them appetizing, but none of them giving the true potato flavour. In fact, you don't know half the time what you're eating in France; it's the sauce you taste! Fancy serving a partridge aux choux: the whole exquisite flavour of the bird lost, swamped, drowned in the pungent taste and odour of the accursed cabbage! Compare this bourgeois mess with the flavour you get of an English partridge roasted before a fire by a cook who knows the value of the jewel he is asked to set; nothing but boiled rice or the heart of a lettuce with olive oil from Nice should ever be served with the dainty morsel. But then there are so few cooks in England, and nearly all who merit the name are French. As I began this chapter with the story of General Dickson's jovial courtesy and excellent dinner, so I must in justice to London end it with the account of a still more memorable feast enjoyed in Ernest Beckett's (afterwards Lord Grimthorpe's) house in Piccadilly, because it, too, throws light on the 368

consummate savoir faire and kindness which enriches English life and distinguishes it above life in any other country. I had got to know Beckett pretty well towards the end of 1887. He had heard me tell some of the stories I afterwards published and encouraged me by warm praise. He was always pressing me too to go into the House of Commons. "You may write wonderfully," he used to say, "but you'll never write as well as you talk, for you're at least as good an actor as a story teller." One evening Beckett asked me to dinner; Mallock and Professor Dow-den of Dublin University were the only other guests. I knew both men slightly and had read a good deal of both and especially of Mallock, not only his New Republic but all his attacks on socialism in defence of an unrestrained individualism. In spite of his reserved manners and rather slow way of speaking, I had come to feel a genuine esteem for his very considerable abilities. I was glad too to meet Dowden again. His book on Shakespeare I thought piffle; it was all taken from what I had begun to call the Ragbag, the receptacle where the English store all the current ideas about Shakespeare, ideas for the most part completely false and not seldom ridiculously absurd. Nine out of ten English mediocrities are afflicted with the desire to make this God Shakespeare in their own image, and this inexplicable idolatry of themselves has led them into all manner of incongruous misconceptions. Naturally I had no idea when we sat down to dine that Beckett had arranged the whole affair just to find out whether my knowledge of Shakespeare was really extraordinary or not. Still less did I imagine that Mallock had offered himself as chief inquisitor, so to speak. Towards the end of dinner Beckett turned the conversation deftly enough to Shakespeare and Mallock remarked that though he had only read him casually, carelessly, "like all the world, he had yet noticed that some of Shakespeare's finest expressions— 'gems of thought'—were never quoted, indeed, were not even known to most of the professional students." I nodded my agreement. "Give us an instance!" cried Beckett. "Well," replied Mallock, "take the phrase, 'frightened out of fear'; could, a truth be more splendidly expressed? An epigram unforgettable!" "You're right," exclaimed Beckett, "and I must confess I don't know where it occurs. Do you, Harris?" "Enobarbus in Antony and Cleopatra," I replied. "Enobarbus is the conscience of the play: the high intellectual judgment of Shakespeare called in, this once, to decide between 'great Caesar' and Shakespeare's alter ego, the lover Antony. It's the only time I think that Shakespeare ever used such an abstraction." 369

"A remarkable apercu," said Dowden. "I had no idea that you were a Shakespeare lover; surely there are not many in the States?" "Not many anywhere, I imagine," was my laughing reply. A moment or two later Mallock began again. "Shakespeare is always being praised for his wonderful character drawing, but I'm often shocked by the way he disdains character. Fancy a clown talking of 'the primrose path!'" "A clown!" I repeated. "You mean the porter in Macbeth, don't you?" "Of course, the porter!" Mallock replied. "A very clown!" "Curious," I went on laughing. "I asked because the porter, I believe, doesn't say 'primrose path' but 'primrose way'." "Are you sure?" exclaimed Mallock. "I could have sworn 'twas 'primrose path'; I think 'path' better than 'way'." "My memory, too, supports you, Mr. Mallock," Dowden chimed in. "I feel certain it was the 'primrose path'; 'path' is certainly more poetic." "It is," I replied, "and that's probably why Shakespeare gives 'primrose way' to the sleeper porter and 'primrose path' to Ophelia; you know she warns her brother of the 'primrose path' of dalliance." "I believe you're right!" exclaimed Mallock. "But what an extraordinary memory you have." "The man of 'one book,' you know," I laughed, "is always to be dreaded." "It seems strange that you should have studied Shakespeare with such particularity," Dowden remarked pleasantly. "From some of your writing in the Spectator, which our mutual friend Verschoyle has shown me, I thought you rather a social reformer after the style of Henry George." "I'm afraid I am," I confessed. "Yet I admit the validity of most of Mr. Mallock's arguments against socialism, though I can't imagine how he can argue against the obvious truth that the land of the people should belong to all the people." "Why should we care for the people," cried Mallock, "the Great Unwashed. They propagate their kind and die and fill forgotten graves. It is only the great who count; the hoi polloi don't matter." Mallock always put forward the aristocratic creed with even greater ability than Arthur Balfour, yet I thought my view the wiser. 370

"The physique of the English race is diminishing," I began, "through the poverty of the mass of the people. In 1845 only one hundred and five recruits out of a thousand were under five feet six in height, while in 1887 fifty per cent were below that standard. The girth of chest, too, shows a similar shrinkage." "That leaves my withers unwrung," scoffed Mallock. "Why should we care particularly about the rag, tag and bobtail of the people?" "Because your geniuses and great men," I replied, "come from the common mass; the Newtons, Darwins and Shakespeares don't spring from noble loins." "Nor from the lowest class either," returned Mallock. "From the well-fed, at least." "The more reason," I retorted, "to give the mass of the people humane conditions of life." "There we must all be agreed," Beckett broke in. "If the mass of the people were treated as well as the aristocrat treats his servants, all would be well; but the manufacturer treats his workmen, not as servants, but as serfs. 'Hands': the mere word is his condemnation." The conversation continued on these general lines till suddenly Dowden turned to me. "One thing you must admit," he said smiling. "Shakespeare took the aristocratic side, was indeed an aristocrat to his finger-tips. Surely no great genius was ever so completely indifferent to social reforms or indeed to reforms of any sort. His caricature of Jack Cade is convincing on that point." "Quite true!" cried Mallock. "Undeniable, unarguable, indeed." "Don't say such things," I broke out. "I can't hear them without protest: what age was Shakespeare when he wrote Jack Cade? Think of him fresh from the narrow, brainless life of village Stratford, transplanted into that pulsing many-coloured life of London with young aristocrats all about him on the stage. No wonder he sneered at Jack Cade; but ask him twenty years later what he thought of the aristocrats and the harsh misery of ordinary life and you would have got a very different answer! The main truth about Shakespeare, and it's an utterly neglected truth, is that he grew from being an almost ordinary youth into one who stood on the forehead of the time to come, a sacred leader and guide for a thousand years." "Very interesting," retorted Mallock, "and new, but I want proofs, I'm free to confess, proofs! Where's the Jack Cade in his latest works, or rather, where shall we find Essex and Southampton disdained and Cade treated as a great reformer and martyr to a cause?" 371

"He's got you there, Harris," exclaimed Dowden. "Has he? First of all, Mr. Mallock, you'll have to admit that Shakespeare quickly came to see the English aristocrat as he really was. No better or more bitter portrait of the aristocrat exists in any literature than Portia gives of her English suitor in The Merchant of Venice: 'a proper man's picture' but 'a poor dumb show.' He knows no foreign language and his manners, like his clothes, lack all distinction. So much for 'the poor pennyworth!' "But no Jack Cade on a pedestal, you say. Well, Posthumus was Shakespeare's alter ego, as plainly as Prospero, and what does Posthumus say in prison when he cries to the Gods: I know you are more clement than vile men, Who of their broken debtors, take a third, A sixth, a tenth, letting them thrive again On their abatement: that's not my desire... "What would Shakespeare have said to Chamberlain's Bankruptcy Act, which is the law of England today and for many a year to come? You now take everything from the broken debtor and do not then discharge him, but keep his failure hung over him for years in order to force him to the prison, which the beggared seldom escape. In this we are infinitely viler than Shakespeare's 'vile men.' Shakespeare not a social reformer! If your laws were conceived in the spirit of his maturity, the millennium would be realized. I always put him with Jesus as a thinker." Mallock laughed as at an enormity and I didn't pursue the theme. I had given them pause, which was enough. We adjourned to the drawing-room for coffee, which was excellent, as the whole meal had been. Beckett ate with the keenest enjoyment, but in strict moderation, and all of us cultivated a similar control. While drinking the coffee Dowden said he hoped I'd write on Shakespeare. "You've certainly given me food for thought," he added courteously. "And me too," cried Mallock. When they went away, Beckett kept me and for the life of me I could not understand why, till he suddenly blurted out, "Tant pis if you think worse of me, but I think I owe it to you to tell you the truth. I was talking to Mallock the other day about you, praising your extraordinary scholarship and knowledge of Shakespeare and your genius. He said that genius was difficult to measure, but knowledge was easy; why not let him test your knowledge of Shakespeare; and so I arranged this dinner. If you had come to grief I'd have said nothing, but you came through so brilliantly that I think you ought to know. I hope you're not angry with me?" "No, no," I replied. "How could I be?" 372

"I want to be friends," rejoined Beckett warmly. "I want you to regard me as a friend and as a sign of it I wish you'd call me Ernest and let me call you Frank." "That's dear of you," I responded, and gave him my hand. From that day on Ernest Beckett was a true friend of mine and my affection for him grew till he passed—alas! all too soon, into the eternal silence. One word more on the freedom of speech used in good society in London in the eighties and nineties of the nineteenth century. It was not so outspoken as the best French or German society, but its rule was very much like the rule of the best Italian or Spanish society: anything was permitted if it was sufficiently funny or witty. In the Prince of Wales' set in especial, it was possible to tell the most risqué story, provided always that it was really humorous. And the Pink 'Un, or chief sporting paper of the day, edited by John Corlett and printed on pink paper once a week, certainly set a broad example. One instance will prove this. Just before I returned to London the Baroness Burdett Coutts, a great favorite of the Prince and the Queen for her goodness of heart and many benefactions, though well over sixty years of age, married young Mr. Bartlett, an American, a good-looking man of six or seven and twenty, and five feet ten in height. Prince Edward, it was said, was asked by the Queen to remonstrate with the old lady. But she met him by saying that she could not make her dear boy unhappy. "He is head over ears in love with me, you know," she said. The Prince could only smile and perhaps repeat the British saying under his breath: "No fool like an old fool." The week after the marriage Corlett published the announcement in the Pink 'Un, and underneath in large letters, this: AN ARITHMETICAL PROBLEM: How many times does twenty-seven go into sixty-eight and what is there over? Perhaps nothing except the famous naughty blunder in The Times some years later ever caused such widespread merriment. The tone of English society is the tone of a well-bred man of the world, whereas the tone of American society is the tone of a Puritan grocer. 373

CHAPTER XIV. CHARLES READE; MARY ANDERSON; IRVING; CHAMBERLAIN; HYNDMAN AND BURNS IN MY EARLY DAYS in London one event moved me profoundly, the death and burial of Charles Reade. Somehow or other he had got the name of being bad tempered and quarrelsome and his lovable and great qualities were almost forgotten. Indeed, were it not for the fact that a prominent journalist, George Augustus Sala, took up the cudgels for his private character and wrote of him as kind-hearted as well as noble-minded, judgment against him would have gone by default. Of course, like all the younger ones, I measured him wholly as a writer and accepted at once every word of Sala's eulogy and went far beyond it. Unlike most Englishmen, I regarded Reade as a far greater writer than Dickens, and indeed had no hesitation in putting The Cloister and the Hearth side by side with Vanity Fair in my admiration, and perhaps a little higher in my love. Again and again I talked of Reade's masterpiece as the greatest English novel, though the spirit of opposition may have added a tinge of challenge to my passionate superlative. The announcement of his death reminded me that I might have known him, had I wished. Rossetti's passing some two years before, my regret was keen and lasting. But I went to his burial and from it learned how careless, or rather how chanceful, is England's sympathy with her great men. True, that Easter Tuesday was a vile day: it rained and the air was raw. He was to be buried too at Willesden, miles away from the centre, but there was not a great crowd even at Shepherd's Bush, whence the funeral procession started. A more dismal burial would be hard to imagine. And so I resented even Sala's praise of It is never too late to mend as a "magnificent work," and his comparison of Hawes, the governor of the gaol, and Eden the chaplain, as "distinctly original and dramatic characters," with the Faust and Mephistopheles and the Gretchen of Goethe. Such over praise seemed as impertinent-odious as his talking of two Charles Reades: "One a very pugnacious and vituperative old gentleman, always shaking his fist in somebody's face and not infrequently hitting somebody over the head," and "the other Charles Reade I knew and revered as a valiant, upright and withal a charitable and compassionate Christian man, inexhaustible in his pity for suffering, implacable only in his hatred of things shameful and cruel and mean. He was throughout his life a militant man; but his soldiering is over now; there he rests in a peaceful tomb by the side of the Friend whom he loved so long and so deeply." Only three months before, Tennyson had been made a peer amid universal eulogy; yet here was as great a man put away forever without pomp or circumstance; the ordinary English reader thought more of Maud or The May Queen than The Cloister and the Hearth; still what did it matter? I for one walked through the rain and slush while the gallant Denys, with his "the Devil is dead", went with me and Gerard and Catherine and the rest of the glorious and ever-living company; and perchance one man's understanding and admiring, passionate love is more than most of us get in this earthly

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pilgrimage. Surely it is well with dear Charles Reade: I saw his coffin lowered into the grave, but I find it hard to forgive myself. I ought to have seen and known him in order at least to have thanked him for his deathless gift to humanity and the many hours of pure delight I had had with his brave heart and noble spirit. But now I must say a word or two of other occurrences that throw a certain light on English character and conditions. An American actress, Mary Anderson, took London by storm. It was said that Lord Lytton bought a row of the stalls night after night and filled the seats with chosen guests; his admiration surprised everyone who knew him, because he was regarded as an avowed admirer of the ephebos, rather than of woman's beauty; but he certainly fell for "our Mary," as some tried to nickname her. This was the Lord Lytton, who in The New Timon sneered at Tennyson: The jingling medley of purloined conceits, Out-babying Wordsworth and out-glittering Keats. And Tennyson's answer was even more savage: What profits now to understand The merits of a spotless shirt, A dapper boot, a little hand, If half the little soul is dirt? Before Mary Anderson appeared I had called on her and done a sketch of her career for the Evening News. She was a tall, graceful, good-looking blonde, but I never dreamed of her huge success. Her mind was as commonplace as her voice. She had no special gift, but on the stage she was beautiful: the foot-lights set her off peculiarly, though she could not act for nuts. To compare her as an actress with Ellen Terry or even with Ada Rehan would be ridiculous: she was comparatively inarticulate. Yet her appearances were events; she went from triumph to triumph. Through her success I realized that there are special scenic qualities demanded by the stage. She was very tall and when she came down the stage in white, she dominated it and dwarfed all the other women; in talking she had a slight American accent that would have ruined her as a Shakespearean actress, but by the time she played in The Winter's Tale she had shed her twang and spoke fairly; her eyes were a little deep set, her nose perfectly cut: in a room she was just pretty, on the stage a goddess. How much of her success was due to her statuesque grace and how much to Lytton's passionate advocacy can never be known. Her career taught me how susceptible the English are to mere physical beauty. They rate it in all animals higher than any other race and study it more intimately: shorthorn bull or Berkshire sow, bulldog or greyhound, terrier or mastiff, Southdown ram or Welsh sheep, race-horse or hunter— all are admired for their perfect conformity to type, which argues a most 375

passionate and imaginative understanding of what type is or should be. Were it not for their idiotic Puritanism the English would be the greatest sculptors in the world and world-renowned besides for their extraordinary understanding of every form and type of bodily beauty. I visited the British Museum with Rodin later to study the figures from the Parthenon. He went into ecstasies over them; they were as sensuous, he declared, as any figures in all plastic art. George Wyndham went with me at another time but he would not be seduced. The Greek feet and ankles were too large and ill-shaped, he argued; the womens' necks, too, and breasts were coarse. He preferred the figures from the Temple of Nike Apteros, and even they had bad faults. At length he asserted that the facial type was too wooden: the nose in a straight line from the forehead was ugly. In fine, the best English type, he insisted, was far finer, lovelier at once and more spiritual than the Greek ideal, and I agreed with him. Europe has learned what natural beauty is from English tourists. Was not Ruskin the first to assert that French trees were far more beautiful than English trees? He did not give the reason, but I may. England is afflicted with a wind from the southwest that blows three hundred odd days each year. Against this attack all trees when young have to stem themselves or they would be uprooted; as it is, they are dwarfed and crooked. And the woodlands of France suffer from the same plague, though much less severely. There are no forests in the world to be compared with the American: in half an hour's drive out of New York up the Hudson one sees more varieties of exquisite and well grown trees than one can find in all France, or even Germany. And as the trees, so are the men and women: one can find more types of exquisite girlhood and splendid manhood in an hour in New York than one can find in a day in London or a week in Paris or Berlin or Moscow. How is it that American athletes hold all the records? How is it that they can run faster and jump higher than any of the English athletes, though the other day the English were supposed to be supreme in all forms of sport and athletics? In forty years there has not been a single English heavyweight boxer of the first class simply because the mass of the people have been impoverished to a degree that is not yet realized even in England. The physical manhood of the race has been dwarfed by destitution. But this argument had led me away from my theme. Shortly after my first meeting with Mary Anderson, I saw Tommaso Salvini as Othello. Salvini had every personal qualification: fine presence and in especial a magnificent and perfectly trained voice, now splendidly sonorous, now sweet, always grateful to the ear. The speech containing the lament, "Othello's occupation gone," was never so superbly rendered: the breaking voice, the tears falling from the convulsed face, the hands even knitting and relaxing, formed an unforgettable picture. Salvini at that moment was Othello and when he suddenly turned on Iago he was terrific; but the famous soliloquy in the bed376 chamber before he murders Desdemona was given in far too loud a voice: he would have waked the dead. He had no conception of the complex English passion, that a man can admire, love, even, what he's resolved to destroy, lest "she should sting more men": Shakespeare's own passion, far too complex for the Italian nature. And in Macbeth Salvini had no inkling that he was acting the thought-plagued Hamlet. His Macbeth never hesitates, never falters: he has not the "if 'twere done, when 'tis done," and so forth. Yet he was the best Othello I've ever seen. Why are actors, like politicians, always over praised? It would take a dozen of the best of them to portray Hamlet to my satisfaction. I should want Irving to look the part, and Forbes-Robertson to recite some of the soliloquies, and Terriss to stab Polonius, and Sarah Bernhardt to send Ophelia to a nunnery with ineffable tenderness; and even then, whom should I get to show the passion of Hamlet's jealousy or the contempt he felt for Kemp, the clown, who gagged probably and did not say the lines set down for him because he was lifted out of himself by the applause of the groundlings; and worst omission of all, who would impersonate the supreme poet who sings of "the undiscovered country from whose bourne no traveller returns," though he has just been talking to his father's ghost? It was at a dinner that Arthur Walter gave in his house off Queen's Gate, that I got to know Henry Irving. I had met him before, notably at a supper given by Beerbohm Tree in the Garrick Club after he had played Shylock at the Lyceum. I had come from Munich to see his Shylock and compare it with the best Shylock I had ever seen, that of Ernst Possart Irving, having been told by Tree that I had come a thousand miles to see him play, was very gracious and hoped I had liked his impersonation. Naturally, I said, "It was very wonderful, but not Shakespeare's—quite!" Irving insisted on knowing what I meant. Everyone who saw him will remember the scene when Shylock prays to be allowed to go home as a beaten and broken man: Shy. I pray you give me leave to go from hence I am not well; send the deed after me, And I will sign it. Duke. Get thee gone, but do it. Or. In christening shall thou have two godfathers: Had I been judge, thou shouldst have had ten more, To bring thee to the gallows, not the font: (Exit Shylock) It is the only case, I think, in which our gentle Shakespeare allows a gentleman to insult a beaten man. I was therefore outraged by Irving's conception: he was near the door when Gratiano spoke; at once he turned, walked back to Gratiano, drew himself up, crossing his arms, and scanned 377

him contemptuously from head to foot amid the wild applause of the whole house. When Irving challenged me to explain, I said it seemed to me that if Shylock had treated Gratiano in this way, Gratiano would probably have spat in his face and kicked him off the stage. "I can't agree with you," retorted Irving dryly. "I think the applause showed I was right in my conception of Shylock as a great tragic figure." "But Shylock himself tells us," I replied, "that the hero Antonio spat upon his Jewish gabardine." Irving turned away and began talking to someone else. His rudeness annoyed the more because I was reproaching myself for having been too frank. Long afterwards, when Mounet-Sully played Hamlet in Paris and Lemaitre, the great French critic, wanted to know how he compared with Irving, I could not help telling the truth. "Irving," I said, "is the ideal Hamlet for the deaf and Mounet-Sully for the blind!" But in 1884-85,1 met Irving frequently, and Bram Stoker, his manager, always sent me tickets for the Lyceum when I asked for them. One night I gave a supper party and had Lord Lytton and Harold Frederic, both passionate admirers of Irving; and when we drew together to smoke with the Turkish coffee, Irving talked better than I had ever heard him talk; indeed, till then I had thought him rather inarticulate. I had mentioned, I remember, that Lord Randolph Churchill had promised to come to "the apotheosis of the God," as he phrased it, but at the last moment had to excuse himself because of an important debate in the House. "Please tell Mr. Irving," he added in his letter, "how I should have liked to describe the prodigious effect of his Mephistopheles made upon me." Of course Irving was delighted and went off at score, speaking in his natural voice and with no trace of his stage mannerisms and mumblings, which I found so insupportable. "I met Lord Randolph first in 1880 in Dublin," he began. "His father was there as Viceroy and Lord Randolph had gone to live in Dublin. We went across to play a week of Shakespeare and the first night we opened with Hamlet. To my surprise, there was no great reception, no special recognition. At the end of the first act Bram Stoker came to me. "There's someone in the Vice regal box,' he said. 'I think it's Randolph Churchill, the younger son of the Duke.' Now Blandford, his elder brother, had made himself notorious a little while before through a very ugly divorce case; but after all, those affairs are private. I shrugged my shoulders therefore. At the end of the next act Bram Stoker came to say that Lord Randolph would like to make my acquaintance and thank me for my wonderful acting, etc. I told him to bring him round, and at the end of the act he brought Lord Randolph to me in my dressing room. He came to me at once with outstretched hands. 'I have to thank you, Mr. Irving,' he began, 'for one of the greatest pleasures of my life, an incomparable 378

evening!' I bowed of course, but he went on. 'I had no idea that Hamlet was such a great play.' "I stared at him: was he trying to be humorous? I replied dryly: ' Hamlet is usually supposed to be a great play.' "'Really!' he said, 'I hadn't heard of it.' This was too much for me: he was either a fool or trying to pull my leg. I turned away. At once Randolph added in a very courtly way, 'I mustn't take up your time by exposing my ignorances; you are no doubt busy.' "'No,' I replied, 'this act is chiefly taken up by the fair Ophelia.' "'Really!' he burst out again. 'I think Miss Terry too is wonderful. I mustn't lose a word of what she says.' I smiled and he added, 'I can't go without hoping to meet you again; won't you dine with me on Sunday next in the lodge in Phoenix Park, which my father has been good enough to place at my disposal?' "His manner, something ingenuous and enthusiastic in his youth, pleased me, and I accepted at once, conscious of a certain sympathy. During the week I was told that he had been in the Vice regal box every night. On the Sunday I went to dine with him a little intrigued: what would he say? He met me in the hall: 'Oh, Mr. Irving,' he began, 'I can't reckon what I owe you: through you I've come to know Shakespeare; what a man he was! Half a dozen of his plays are great plays, and interesting—' "'But surely you must have known them before?' I asked. 'Surely at Oxford you must have read some of them, even if in our schooldays the great things get neglected?' "'No, no, I assure you,' he replied. 'I never read him at school nor at Oxford. I'm afraid I was very lazy and idle all through, but his Lear is a great, great play: I'd love to see you in it; and there's something in the Antony and Cleopatra that appeals to me peculiarly. Do you ever play it?' "'It's a little difficult to stage,' I answered, and while explaining we took our seats at the table and I found him a first-rate host. "Lord Randolph made a profound impression on me," Irving went on. "As soon as I realized that he was not posing I said to myself, "This is a great man, too; unconsciously he thinks that even Shakespeare needs his approval! He makes himself instinctively the measure of all things and of all men and doesn't trouble himself about the opinions or estimates of others.' Afterwards, when they made fun of him in Parliament, as they did at first with silly caricatures of him as an impudent boy, I knew the day would come when they'd have to take him seriously." 379

I was delighted with the story and with the simple, sincere way Irving told it. I think still it shows intellect in him and an appreciation of greatness that I did not at all expect. Sometime later Arthur Bourchier, the actor, told me an amusing story that shows Henry Irving in another light. "When Benson at Oxford was drilling his amateur company in Shakespeare and Aeschylus, he asked Irving down once for the opening night of the Agamemnon. I was in Benson's company and delighted when he showed me Irving's charming letter of acceptance. He was flattered, he said, by the invitation and would come gladly. We were all on the alert, as you may imagine, on the great night. Well, the performance went without a hitch and afterwards Irving came round on the stage and congratulated Benson in the handsomest way. "A great play," he said, "and a very great actor. I'm delighted to feel, Mr. Benson, that the University, too, has come to enrich the stage. I think you gave the chief things superbly"; and he really spoke simply, as if he meant every word of it, and we drank it all in greedily, as young men do. His praise affected Benson so much that shortly afterwards he confessed, "Your appreciation, Sir, gives me courage"—he began—"I think I shall give the Trilogy." "Do, my dear fellow," cried Irving, clapping him on the shoulder, "do. It's a part that'll suit you admirably." "After that," said Bourchier, grinning, "the curtain came down of itself." I have given this story as well as the others because it illustrates a side of the actor; and now I'll make a further personal confession that tells against myself and puts a certain nobility of Irving in a fair light. In my later years in London I seldom went to the Lyceum and took little stock in Irving's later achievements, though right up to the end of the century his "first nights" were something more than social events. Irving always gave the impression of being more than an actor: he had a great personality; his marked peculiarities of figure, face and speech set him apart and gave him unique place and distinction. Of the three or four chief personages of the eighties, he was the most singular—more arresting even than Parnell. Randolph Churchill and Gladstone had to be seen in the House of Commons to win full recognition, but Irving, like Disraeli, took the eye everywhere and excited the imagination. As Shylock, even, Irving made everyone else upon the stage appear common, an effect surely not contemplated by the creator of the "Ebrew Jew"! There can be no doubt that his peculiar enunciation and accent on the stage were deliberately adopted in order to increase the effect of his appearance, for in private life he spoke almost like anyone else. His "make-up," in fact, went so far as to include his speech and voice. If we are to believe tradition, Garrick in this was his exact 380

opposite: he was always simple and natural on the stage, we are told, but in private was always acting, always playing a part. With Goethe, I felt that the admission of young girls had a more laming effect on the theatre than it had even upon books. "Young girls," said the great German, "have no business in the theatre; they belong to the cloister and the theatre is for men and women only and the elemental human passions. But as it is impossible to get the maidens and their emasculating influence out of the theatre, I have stopped going to it. I would have to shut my eyes to all the feebleness and foolery, or accept it all, without even trying to improve it, and that's not my role." In those first years in London, I had a paltry little spite against Irving: he denied me the advertisement of the Lyceum Theatre on the ground that the Evening News was a ha'penny paper; and I thought it mean and shabby of him, and Stoker put the blame on Irving himself. About the same time, I discovered Wilson Barrett's inordinate ambition to oust Irving from his pride of place. After the Fortescue triumph, I had been introduced to Miss Terry and had flattered her to the top of her bent; and, indeed, I admired her hugely: I thought her far and away the best English actress. Somewhere or other I heard now that Miss Terry's engagement with Irving had run out and that he did not want to increase her salary. At once I flew to Wilson Barrett and induced him to give me a letter offering Ellen Terry double what she was getting with Irving and a percentage in the profits of the Princess's Theatre to boot. I took it to Miss Terry and after reading it she laughed. "May I keep it?" "Certainly," I replied. "You would be the chief person in the Princess's." She laughed again. "You tempt cleverly; why?" "Frankly, because I don't think Irving appreciates you properly." Miss Terry smiled but would not commit herself. When I announced in the Evening News that it was just possible that Miss Terry would soon go to help Wilson Barrett at the Princess's, I had my revenge. In half an hour Bram Stoker was at my office with a flaming contradiction which I refused to insert, saying I had reason to believe that Miss Terry might change her "leading man." I thought Stoker would have had a fit. Away he rushed and in a short while brought Irving back with him, who assured me that Miss Terry had renewed her engagement with him. "It was signed, sealed and delivered." "I am very glad for your sake," I said, "and will give the news in tomorrow morning's edition," and, I added, "though you may not care for the announcement in a ha'penny paper." Bram Stoker, I saw, understood what I 381

meant, for afterwards the Lyceum advertisement was sent to the Evening News without being asked for. It was a mean and paltry revenge to take, but Bram Stoker had been needlessly curt and disdainful in his initial refusal, and consequently I had no idea how wrong I had been till some years afterwards, when I assisted at Irving's bankruptcy and the first meeting of his creditors, and learned to my amazement that he had nearly thirty old actresses and actors on his civil list, to whom he gave weekly pensions of from thirty shillings to five pounds. To all the weaker members of his craft that had ever played with him he behaved with a princely generosity: he had filled his great position nobly and I had made it more difficult for him. I was ashamed of myself to suffering. From that time on I tried to atone to Irving for my forgotten meanness, but I wish to record it here simply as showing that some of our worst deeds are due to want of knowledge and to a too low estimate of our fellow men. What judges of literature these journalists are! Froude has just published his Life of Carlyle and The Times compares it with Boswell's Johnson. "Carlyle," says The Times, "is a greater person than Johnson," and, it adds, "all the reading world will allow that there can be no comparison between Mr. Froude and Boswell"; all of which might be true without establishing the conclusion. The great portraits of the world are not of the greatest persons, nor written by the greatest men, of what life-history would compare with Plato's pictures of Socrates? If the great master of prose and thought had only written one dialogue between Socrates and Xanthippe, telling us of their intimate relations and reactions and giving us the woman's and wife's point of view, he might have painted a companion portrait to the Crito and the Phaedo that would have completed his work. Carlyle was not as human as Johnson. Let us take one phrase of the great Doctor: he has visited Garrick behind the scenes and breaks out with the confession that "the black legs and snowy bosoms of your actresses, David, excite my amorous propensities." Has he not here painted himself to the life? And then Froude: a better stylist perhaps than Boswell, but without Boswell's intense interest in his subject. What weaknesses has Froude discovered in Carlyle? Why he doesn't even tell us how Carlyle managed to save £. 30,000. Why didn't Carlyle go to visit Goethe in Weimar? That would have been better than putting bawbee to bawbee; and when he made his wife jealous, how did he console her and win forgiveness? Froude is interested in literature rather than life, and not in this spirit are great biographies written, or indeed great anything else. Erdachtes mag zu denken geben Doch nur Erlebtes wird beleben. 382

But already everyone was talking of Joseph Chamberlain and his "Unauthorized Programme" in the Fortnightly Review, and of Gladstone and the mess he had got himself and his government into, partly through his dislike of Chamberlain and of Parnell, who, since the Kilmainham business, and because of the perpetual unfair attacks in The Times, was coming more and more into prominence. It was in reference to Parnell and his rise that I first said to myself, "Great men, like kites, go up against the wind." But Parnell, thoroughly English as he was and magnificently handsome to boot, certainly the handsomest man in my time in the House of Commons, never succeeded in England, though towards the end he was on the point of succeeding in the House of Commons, a fact which to me deepens the tragedy of his untimely death. But Chamberlain was the central figure on the political stage. I measured him perhaps harshly on our first meetings. I've told how surprised I was at the noble way Lord Salisbury acted in regard to his tenants' houses at Hatfie